Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf left Pakistan yesterday to receive medical care abroad, his aides said, leaving behind his trial on treason and murder charges for a city where he lived in exile for years.
The 72-year-old former military chief has pledged to return to Pakistan, where he seized power in a 1999 bloodless coup, and the country’s supreme court granted him permission this week to travel abroad for treatment of a back injury.
However, prosecutors and others in Pakistan greeted his departure with suspicion that Musharraf may remain abroad to avoid his trials, some of which carry the possibility of a death sentence.
“What once began as a historic treason trial, either radically altering the civil-military imbalance or shaking the foundations of democracy in the country, is now all but over in name,” the country’s English-language Dawn newspaper wrote.
Musharraf flew out of Pakistan’s port city of Karachi early yesterday morning aboard a commercial flight to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, his lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan and aide Mohammad Amjad said. Spokeswoman Aasia Ishaq said he might seek care in either the US or Britain for a vertebra fusion surgery, as well as visit the American Hospital in Dubai.
Officials in Dubai did not respond to a request for comment yesterday, at the start of the Emirati weekend. The state-run WAM news agency also did not report on Musharraf’s arrival to the home of the world’s tallest building and luxury malls.
Musharraf’s aides all uniformly said he would return to Pakistan, though many remain suspicious about the timing of his illnesses.
“For sure he will come back to the country,” Ms Ishaq said.