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Pakistan SC says Musharraf can't leave country

world Updated: Apr 08, 2013 15:19 IST
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Pakistan's top court ordered former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to appear in person on Tuesday over treason allegations and ordered him to be barred from leaving the country.

The ruling is the latest in a series of problems Musharraf has faced since his return home last month. The former military ruler returned on March 24 from four years in exile, vowing to run for parliament in the May 11 general election to "save" the troubled nuclear-armed state.

The orders were issued after judges heard applications from various lawyers that the ex-dictator face trial for treason, for imposing emergency rule and arresting judges in 2007, a move that ultimately paved the way for his downfall.

"Musharraf should be prosecuted for high treason because he is guilty of subversion of constitution," lawyer Hamid Khan told the court.

"He should be punished with death or be jailed for life."

Justice Jawad Khawaja said the court had already declared the emergency rule imposed by Musharraf in 2007 as unconstitutional and asked what action the state had taken in response.

Syed Afshan Adil, a defence lawyer for Musharraf, told AFP the court should not entertain the petitions against her client because "only a state can initiate high treason case".

Musharraf faces a number of other legal cases. He has been bailed over the 2007 killing of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and a Baluch rebel leader in 2006, and for sacking and arresting judges in 2007.

He has been approved to stand for election only in the remote northern area of Chitral on the Afghan border, after his application to stand in three other constitutencies - in Islamabad, Karachi and Punjab province - were rejected.

The May election will be the first democratic transition of power in Pakistan. Since its founding in 1947 it has been governed by four military rulers, most recently Musharraf, and is struggling with a weak economy, chronic instability and poverty.

Since he left office in 2008 Musharraf's power base has shrivelled. Last month he suffered the indignity of having a shoe thrown at him in court by an angry lawyer - a deeply insulting gesture in the Muslim world.

He is not thought likely to win more than a couple of seats with his All Pakistan Muslim League party, which he founded in self-imposed exile with the help of Pakistani expatriates.

Officials in Chitral, where Musharraf hopes to win support because of development work carried out during his rule, approved his candidature on Sunday. But a lawyer in the town said he would appeal against the ruling.