Pak govt may let Musharraf visit S Arabia to condole king's death

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Islamabad, Jan 24: Pakistan's government is considering whether to allow ex-president Pervez Musharraf to travel to Saudi Arabia to offer condolences to the royal family following the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, a media report said today.

Musharraf is not allowed to leave Pakistan due to the high treason case he has been facing since December 2013 for abrogating the Constitution in 2007 when he ruled the country. The Express Tribune reported the former military dictator, who like Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif enjoys close ties with the Saudi royal family, has written a letter to the interior ministry requesting that his name be removed from the Exit Control List (ECL).

Parvez Musharraf

"General (retd) Pervez Musharraf is desirous of visiting Saudi Arabia to express his heartfelt condolences over the sad demise of King Abdullah," reads the letter written by Advocate Faisal Hussain on behalf of the former president.

"That is why we have asked the government to remove Musharraf sahib's name from the ECL," chief coordinator of Musharraf's All Pakistan Muslim League party (APML) Ahmed Raza Kasuri told The Express Tribune yesterday. A close aide of Premier Sharif said the government could consider the request seriously but any such decision would be taken after consulting the ministries of law and interior.

Some believe allowing Musharraf to go abroad could provide the government and other stakeholders as a 'face saver' on the issue of the treason trial which has led to much friction between the government and the military establishment. Political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said there is a strong possibility that Musharraf would be allowed to leave for Saudi Arabia.

"But the government will face harsh criticism if Musharraf chooses not to return. It will give the opposition more space to do politics," Rizvi said. Musharraf is facing a slew of court cases after returning from five years in self-exile to take part in the general election in 2013 which his party lost. He was indicted in the treason case for suspending the Constitution and imposing an emergency in Pakistan in 2007, the first army chief to face such a prosecution.

He has also been charged in the judges' detention case. He is also facing murder charges in the case of former premier Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in 2007. He is on bail in the case. He was indicted last week for the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Khan Bugti in 2006. Musharraf came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, deposing then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Facing impeachment following elections in 2008, he resigned as president and went into self-imposed exile in Dubai.

PTI

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