The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] affirmed the ruling of a lower court on Tuesday allowing former president Pervez Musharraf [JURIST news archive] to travel abroad. The court held that the former president, who is still awaiting trial on a host of charges, may leave the country unless the government establishes a new ban on him from traveling. The court removed him from the exit control list [Pakistan Today report] that permitted authorities to stop any overseas travel. Musharraf was temporarily hospitalized [Daily Pakistan report] before the ruling and presented information expressing a need to travel abroad to undergo a fusion surgery. A letter presented in court from his doctor stated that the surgery is necessary because of severe pain in his back and legs. However, members of the opposition fear [NYT report] that if Musharraf is free to travel abroad he will abscond and not return to Pakistan to face his treason trial.
The case against Musharraf has been ongoing since 2014. Pakistan’s Sindh High Court (SHC) [official website] in June 2014 lifted [judgment, PDF] a travel ban that had prevented Musharraf from leaving the country. Musharraf was indicted [JURIST report] in March of that year on charges of high treason. If convicted, the Musharraf could face the death penalty. Musharraf pleaded not guilty to each of the charges against him, including unlawfully suspending the constitution, firing Pakistan’s chief justice, and instituting emergency rule in 2007. Musharraf called the charges politically motivated and maintained that the country had prospered under his 2001-2008 rule and that his declaration of a state of emergency was not unconstitutional.