Sindh High Court on Friday granted protective bail to former exiled military ruler Pervez Musharraf, facing arrests in the country, just two days ahead of his return to the country after nearly five years, his lawyers said.
Musharraf, 70, has been living in exile in Britain and the United Arab Emirate since he resigned from his post in August 2008. He had earlier announced to return to the country on March 24.
An anti-terrorism court had issued arrest warrant in 2011 for Musharraf in connection with the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. In October last year, a court also issued a warrant for his arrest over the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti in a military operation in August 2006.
Musharraf has denied all charges and will defend himself in courts on return.
Several courts have issued his arrest warrants in few cases including his failure to provide security to slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and killing a senior tribal leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti, when he was ruling the country.
Musharraf had approached Sindh High Court in the port city of Karachi and on Friday the judges granted him protective bail in pending cases against him, his defence lawyer, Ahmad Raza Kasuri told reporters in Karachi.
Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan 1999-2008, has also been charged for imposing emergency and dismissing many judges of the highest judiciary when he had imposed emergency rule. Cases have also been registered for ordering a military raid on the Taliban-linked Red Mosque in Islamabad.
The court directed the former president to submit bail money amounting to rupees 100,000 in each case.
The 14-day-long protective bail was granted in response to a constitutional petition submitted in the court by Musharraf’s daughter Ayla Raza Musharraf on behalf of her father.
The petition prayed to the court for protective bail to enable the former military ruler to appear in the trial court to defend himself.
The petition argued that Musharraf planned to return to the country to take part in the elections but apprehended arrest for his alleged involvement in different cases.
Musharraf, who seized power in 1999 in a bloodless coup, announced on March 1st to return home to contest the May 11 general election.
He had launched his own political party the ‘All Pakistan Muslim League’ (APML) in exile and now say that he will lead election campaign for his party.
He said earlier this month that his party will field candidates on almost all seats in upcoming general elections likely to be held in May this year.
“My return is in the interest of Pakistan. The country’s future is at stake and there is a need of a positive change in the country,” Musharraf had told a news conference in Dubai this month.