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Pakistan court allows former President Musharraf to travel abroad.

A Pakistani court on Thursday (June 12) ordered the government to lift a travel ban on former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, his lawyer said, paving the way for him to leave the country in 15 days' time.Musharraf, who faces a battery of court cases since returning to Pakistan from exile last year, has been waiting since April for a decision on his application to lift the travel ban.Musharraf's lawyer Farough Naseem told reporters the travel ban on Musharraf has been struck down by the Sindh High Court, but the order will only become effective in 15 days, during which time the government can appeal this decision in a higher court.

"Today the divisional bench of the Sindh High Court has allowed the petition filed by Mr. Musharraf, and the memorandum under which Musharraf's name was put on the ECL (Exit Control List) has been annulled by the Sindh High Court. The court has also said that this judgment or order is self executory. So now there is no need to get any further permission from the federal government," Naseem said.

"But at the same time, the High Court has suspended this order for 15 days, which means that this order will become effective in 15 days. In other words, the memorandum on the basis of which Musharraf was put on ECL, and which has been annulled, will remain alive for another 15 days. During this period, the government has the prerogative to remove Musharraf from the ECL, or file an appeal against this judgment," he added.His departure from Pakistan would remove a source of friction between the country's powerful generals and the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as well Pakistan's increasingly assertive judges.

Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif-led government has so far resisted allowing Musharraf to leave the country, saying it is a decision for the courts. Musharraf deposed Sharif in a coup in 1999, and memories of that are still fresh in Sharif's team.Musharraf's lawyers say the former ruler wants to travel abroad for treatment and visit his ailing mother in Dubai.However, many believe it is a ruse to flee the country and avoid punishment if convicted of charges over his suspension of the constitution and imposition of emergency rule in 2007, when he was trying to extend his tenure.In April, Musharraf, who seized power in 1999 and resigned in 2008, pleaded not guilty to five counts of treason.The ex-general is also on bail in three other major cases linked to his time in power, including the 2007 assassination of prime minister Benazir Bhutto and the murder of a Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006.

The progression of the cases so far is a victory for the increasingly independent judiciary. Judges are increasingly challenging the fledgling civilian government and even the powerful Pakistan military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half its history since independence in 1947.

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