Musharraf gets bail again in Red Mosque case

Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf was yesterday granted bail in the last of the court cases against him, perhaps finally paving the way for him to leave the country.

The 70-year-old Musharraf has been under house arrest since April, when he returned to Pakistan from self-exile hoping to regain power through the democratic route.

Instead, he has found himself confined to his villa outside Pakistan almost since his arrival.

Afshan Adil, a member of Musharraf's legal team, said the retired general had been granted given bail in a case relating to a military operation to clear armed militants from Islamabad's Red Mosque in 2007.

The trial is due to start on 11 November. ''Musharraf will not leave the country and will face all the cases,'' Adil said. ''God willing, Musharraf will be acquitted in this case.''

Musharraf ordered a raid against the Red Mosque in Islamabad after students there began harassing massage parlours, stores that sold music, and other targets that they felt promoted vulgarity.

The people holed up in the mosque fought for days. The raid ended with nearly 100 people dead, including at least 10 army commandos.

The army said it seized a large cache of arms from the mosque when the siege was over.

Musharraf's lawyers often make tall claims – after he was granted bail in a case related to the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, they said he was ''free to leave the country immediately'' (See: Musharraf gets bail in Bugti case; 'free to leave Pakistan'). But he remains under house arrest.

The cigar-smoking general seized power in 1999 in a bloodless coup from Nawaz Sharif, who is now the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Musharraf left Pakistan in 2008 as protests against him escalated. He returned in March to fight in elections, but was disqualified by the courts (which he had thoroughly antagonised earlier). A string of criminal cases followed (See: Pak agency formally charges Musharraf with Benazir killing).

The general is currently working on a new volume of his memoirs, detailing his fall from power and subsequent years in self-imposed exile.