Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf left Pakistan for Dubai early on Friday for what his lawyers said was urgent treatment of a spinal condition after a three-year-old travel ban was lifted.
Musharraf boarded an Emirates flight for Dubai that departed from Karachi airport at 3.55 am, hours after interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan announced his name had been removed from the Exit Control List (ECL).
Local media reported a convoy of police and paramilitary Pakistan Rangers left Musharraf’s home in Karachi at around 3.30am as a decoy for the large number of journalists crowding his street. The former president travelled to the airport separately.
Musharraf was the last person to board the plane and “appeared relaxed”, a media report said.
Lawyers for the former army chief, who is facing multiple charges including treason and murder over the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, said he needs urgent medical treatment not available in Pakistan.
“I am going abroad for treatment but will return to face the cases against me,” a party spokesman quoted Musharraf as saying. “I am a commando. I love my motherland. I will come back in a few weeks or months.”
Amjad Malik, a spokesman for Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League party in Dubai, said: “Six to eight weeks are required for the treatment and then he would go back home.”
When 72-year-old Musharraf returned to Pakistan from self-exile in 2013 to contest the general election, he was charged with treason for imposing emergency in 2007.
He was barred from leaving the country by the government and a court barred him from contesting elections for life.
The travel ban was declared illegal by the Sindh high court in 2014. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court upheld the Sindh high court’s ruling and rejected a government appeal.
Observers believe Musharraf is unlikely to return to Pakistan soon. The government’s decision to allow him to leave the country could help heal a rift with the powerful army, which was unhappy about its former chief being put on trial.
Musharraf came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, deposing then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Threatened with impeachment by the Pakistan People’s Party following elections in 2008, Musharraf was forced to resign as president and went into self-exile in Dubai and London.