ISLAMABAD — Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf was released from more than six months of house arrest after a court granted him bail in a case involving the killing of a cleric in 2007.
The former president has already been granted bail in the three other cases against him, although the charges still stand.
Musharraf found himself caught up in a web of legal cases when he returned to Pakistan from his self-imposed exile to take part in April’s national elections.
One of Musharraf's lawyers, Ilyas Siddiqi, said the 70-year-old retired general is a free man, even though the threat of more legal cases remains and he is on a list that prohibits him from leaving the country.
“After bail, no more is he a detained person. He is free citizen. He is a common citizen and there is no bar on him, he can move freely. And the status of this house arrest will end today, after the submission of his security bonds,” Siddiqi said.
Musharraf on Wednesday posted bond in the case involving the killing of a radical cleric during a bloody crackdown on a hardline mosque by security forces in 2007, when Musharraf was in power. Some 100 people died in the siege, including cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi.
In the other legal cases, Musharraf is accused of playing a role in the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, of being involved in the killing of provincial leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, and of having ordered the illegal detention of the nation’s judges in 2007.
Musharraf's spokeswoman, Asia Ishaq, said the former president would now return to Pakistan's political scene.
“He came back to Pakistan for two reasons: One, to face all the cases, all the fabricated and politically motivated and vindictive mind-based cases against him, and the second reason was to take part in active politics, and the second phase will start from, inshallah, most probably by tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. We hope and we are very sure that Mr. Pervez Musharraf is going to hit the streets of Pakistan," said Asia Ishaq.
Musharraf could potentially still face yet another case if the current government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decides to bring charges against him for illegally imposing martial law on the country in 2007.
After stepping down as president in disgrace in 2008, Musharraf left the country and spent nearly four years in self-imposed exile. He returned to Pakistan earlier this year with a plan to run for political office, but was disqualified from running in the elections this past April and barred from leaving the country.
Spokeswoman Ishaq said Musharraf would challenge both rulings and demand that his name be removed from the so-called Exit Control List, or ECL, which effectively bars him from leaving Pakistan.
“Since he has been bailed out, and he has been bailed out comprehensively, on all four charges, so what is the reason to remain to take his name on the ECL? There is no way they can put his name on the ECL, he his name should be out of the ECL,” she said.
Musharraf had been under house arrest at his villa outside Islamabad since April. The criminal charges he faced were related to his nine years in power, from 1999 to 2008.