Pervez Musharraf's legal woes mounted today as a Pakistani special court conducting his treason trial issued a bailable arrest warrant for the former dictator and ordered his production on February 7.
The three-judge court formed by the government to try 70-year-old Musharraf on charges of high treason for imposing emergency in 2007 also rejected his plea to be allowed to go abroad for medical treatment.
However, Musharraf is unlikely to be held in custody because the court said he could get bail by submitting a surety of Rs 25 lakh.
The court's registrar read out the judgement, which was reserved earlier in the day after defence and prosecution lawyers completed their arguments. The court asked the Islamabad Police chief to implement its order.
According to procedure, police will have to arrest Musharraf but he can get bail immediately. A person on bail is bound to appear in the court as and when demanded.
Speaking to reporters outside the court, Musharraf's lawyer Faisal Chaudhry said: "We will study the order and if there is an illegality, we will challenge it." He said the court had stated it does not have the power to remove Musharraf's name from the Interior Ministry's Exit Control List (ECL) as only a High Court can do this. Persons included in the ECL are barred from travelling abroad.
Musharraf was earlier granted bail in four major cases against him, including one over the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto.
Yesterday, Musharraf's legal team had asked the special court to remove his name from the ECL so that he could travel abroad. The plea contended the former military ruler wants to visit America for cardiac treatment.
Musharraf was admitted to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi on January 2 after he developed heart problems while being driven to the special court.
A medical report submitted to the court said Musharraf had refused to undergo angiography in Pakistan as he wanted to be treated abroad. The report further said Musharraf's health is such that a heart attack could be "life threatening"
The government's prosecutor, Akram Sheikh, objected to the findings of the medical report and argued Musharraf was trying to avoid coming to court.
Musharraf is facing treason charges for suspending and abrogating the Constitution and imposing an emergency in November 2007. This is the first time in Pakistan's history that a former military ruler has been put on trial for treason.
If convicted, he could get life imprisonment or the death penalty.