Musharraf's hopes of fleeing fade as HC refuses to lift travel ban

A day before the trial of Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for treason is scheduled to begin, the Sindh High Court today put a further damper on any plans the retired general may have had of leaving the country.

Decreeing that it had no jurisdiction to lift the ban on Musharraf's travel, the bench advised him to approach the government for this.

Musharaff had petitioned the court last month to remove his name from the 'exit control list' (ECL) so he could visit his ailing mother in Dubai. But a two-judge bench said the court didn't order to put or remove his name on the ECL, and the government was the proper authority to approach.

The former commando seems to have shot himself in the foot by his ill-considered return to Pakistan from self-imposed exile to contest the May 2013 elections in the hope of returning to power through the democratic route. Surely, he should have realised that it was Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif whom he deposed in an army-aided bloodless coup in 1999.

Sharif, back in power, can hardly be expected to be magnanimous; rather it is his new government that is pressing most of the five cases that the former quasi-dictator still faces. Dating back to Musharraf's 1999-2008 rule, these include responsibility for the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto; and 'high treason' for altering the country's Constitution.

He was granted bail in the four main cases against him but remains under guard at his farmhouse on the edge of Islamabad because of threats by Taliban insurgents to his life.

Ordered to appear before a special court on Tuesday, the 70-year-old Musharraf will be the first military dictator in Pakistan's history – which has had several – to face a treason trial.

Speaking publicly last week for the first time since being put under house arrest in April, Musharraf vowed to face justice and not flee the country.