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Court allows Musharraf to leave Pakistan

A court in Karachi on Thursday ordered Pakistan's government to lift a travel ban on former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 15 days' time, his lawyer said, possibly drawing a line under a raft of legal troubles.

KARACHI: A court in Karachi on Thursday ordered Pakistan's government to lift a travel ban on former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 15 days' time, his lawyer said, possibly drawing a line under a raft of legal troubles.

Musharraf has been battling several court cases since he returned to Pakistan last year to fight elections, including treason charges for imposing emergency rule in 2007, stoking tensions between civilian authorities and the powerful military.

His exit from Pakistan could help ease those tensions at a time when the country is fighting a resurgent Taliban following a brazen attack on Karachi's airport this week.

"The court has allowed our appeal and ordered to strike down Musharraf's name from the Exit Control List. The order will be executed after 15 days," lawyer Farogh Naseem told AFP.

The delayed execution of the order "will give time to the government to appeal in a superior court if they so desire", he added.

Musharraf, 70, flew to Karachi in April to undergo medical tests.

He has said he wants the travel ban lifted so he can visit his sick mother in Dubai, but many in Pakistan see it as a ruse to flee the country and avoid the litany of criminal cases against him dating back to his 1999-2008 rule. Musharraf also faces several murder cases.

The former commando has been staying with his daughter in Karachi where he travelled for the tests at a navy-run hospital.

He has been having medical treatment since January, when he was rushed to hospital after suffering heart problems on his way to court for a hearing.

After his indictment for treason in March, Musharraf asked to be allowed to visit his mother, who is in her 90s, but was denied permission.

Musharraf came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, deposing then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who won re-election in 2013 when Pakistan underwent the first civilian handover of power since its independence from Britain in 1947.

Facing impeachment following 2008 elections, Musharraf resigned as president and went into self-imposed exile in Dubai. He returned to Pakistan in March last year on an ill-fated mission to run in the elections but was barred from participating.

He is also on bail in three other cases linked to his time in power including the 2007 assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, and the murder of Baluch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006.

The legal development comes as pressure mounts on Pakistan to strike the Taliban's headquarters in the North Waziristan tribal district following the all-night siege of Karachi airport on Monday that left 37 dead including 10 attackers.

The assault was followed on Wednesday by the first US drone strikes on Pakistan this year.

The two strikes killed at least 16 militants and raised suspicion of coordination between the two countries after the programme was reportedly suspended to give Islamabad space to pursue a peace process.

Sharif's government in February began pursuing dialogue with the Pakistani Taliban aimed at ending a seven-year insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives. However a ceasefire struck March broke down a month later.

The army was widely seen as being opposed to the dialogue because of the heavy casualties it has sustained at the hands of the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), which views them as a mercenary force serving foreign interests.

But following the breakdown of the talks and the Karachi attack, observers believe both civil and military authorities are converging on the need for more concerted action.

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