Pervez Musharraf gets protective bail ahead of return

A security man stands guard at the entrance of former president Pervez Musharraf"s campaign office Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Previous attempts by Musharraf to return to Pakistan have all been abandoned at the last moment

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has been granted protective bail in several cases, his lawyers say, paving the way for his return to Pakistan from self-imposed exile.

Mr Musharraf - who faces a string of charges including conspiracy to murder - had signalled his intention to return to take part in forthcoming polls.

He is expected to arrive in the southern city of Karachi on Sunday.

The bail order ensures that he will not face immediate arrest upon his return.

The former military leader has lived in London and Dubai ever since stepping down five years ago.

He has vowed to return several times in the past, but those previous attempts have been abandoned.

Obstacle removed

There are several arrest warrants out for Mr Musharraf.

He is accused of failing to provide adequate security for former PM Benazir Bhutto ahead of her assassination in 2007.

He is also wanted in connection with the murder of a Baloch tribal leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti and for sacking the entire higher judiciary in November 2007.

Judge Sajjad Ali Shah posted bail at 300,000 rupees (£2,000) in the three above cases, the AFP news agency reports.

The order means that he cannot be arrested for 10 days in connection with the judges' arrests and for 14 days in connection with the other two cases, AFP reports.

Friday's protective bail order removes a key obstacle to his return as previous plans had been aborted because he faced arrest upon his return.

The former president has described the cases against him as "baseless" and politically motivated.

Mr Musharraf led a military government which ruled Pakistan from 1999.

His supporters were defeated in parliamentary elections in February 2008, and Mr Musharraf resigned in August that year under threat of impeachment.

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