KARACHI - Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf was Friday granted protective bail in a series of legal cases, paving the way for his return from exile without the risk of immediate arrest.
Musharraf, who seized power in 1999 and left the country after stepping down in 2008, has vowed to return Sunday to contest the May 11 general election, but is wanted in Pakistan for conspiracy to murder and illegally arresting judges.
To preclude the prospect of his arrest on arrival, his daughter, Ayla Raza, petitioned a court in Karachi on his behalf for protective bail in three cases, including the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
“He has been given pre-arrival, protective bail in all three cases,” Musharraf’s lawyer Ahmad Raza Kasuri told AFP.
Judge Sajjad Ali Shah posted bail at 300,000 rupees ($3,000) over the 2007 sacking of judges, the 2006 death of Akbar Bugti, and the murder of Benazir Bhutto in a gun and suicide attack.
The decision prevents Musharraf being arrested for 10 days in connection with the judges’ arrests and for 14 days in connection with the other two cases.
Technically, Pakistan’s Supreme Court could intervene to reverse the order.
“He has full protection now and he cannot be arrested in these cases upon his arrival in Pakistan,” Salman Safdar, another Musharraf lawyer, told AFP.
At the Sindh High Court, a handful of activists from Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party flashed victory signs and chanted “Long Live Musharraf” and “Musharraf will come back, he will bring prosperity”.
The outgoing government led by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) always insisted that Musharraf would be arrested on return to the country and last year he delayed a planned homecoming after being threatened with detention.