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Court allows Musharraf to leave Pakistan

KARACHI--Pakistan's government was Thursday ordered to lift a travel ban on former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in a court decision that could draw a line under a raft of legal troubles.

Musharraf has been battling several court cases since he returned to Pakistan last year to contest 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 that left dozens dead.

Presiding judge Muhammad Ali Mazhar of the Sindh High Court in Karachi said the ban “placing the name of retired General Pervez Musharraf on the Exit Control List is struck down.”

“The operation of the judgment is suspended for 15 days so that the respondent (the government) may file appeal before the Supreme Court.”

Musharraf 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 dating back to his 1999-2008 rule.

But his lawyer Farogh Naseem said: “Musharraf does not want to live like a convicted man. If he is allowed to leave Pakistan, he will come back whenever he is needed.”

The 70-year-old former commando has since April been staying with his daughter in Karachi, where he traveled for tests at a navy-run hospital.

He has been undergoing 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.

First Drone Strike This Year

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 U.S. 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 program was reportedly suspended to give Islamabad space to pursue a peace process.

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