Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf has won a legal victory in a Karachi court which means he cannot be immediately arrested on charges of conspiracy to murder and illegally removing from office a number of judges, including the Supreme Court chief justice.
Opponents and supporters demonstrated at the court and at one stage a shoe was thrown at Musharraf – a grave insult in the Muslim world as the underside of footwear is considered unclean.
The shoe did not hit Musharraf, and police said the lawyer who threw it was not detained because no charges were filed against him.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan last Sunday after four years in self-imposed exile to take part in parliamentary elections scheduled for May 11.
He is seeking a possible political comeback despite the legal charges against him and death threats from Taliban militants, but analysts have said they do not expect his party to attract much support.
His lawyer Muhammad Siddique Mirza said: “Two bail applications were fixed, one in respect of the Benazir Bhutto case pending in the Rawalpindi anti-terrorist court. The second one was in anti-terrorist court in Quetta.”
The charges date from 2006 and 2007 when Musharraf was president, having seized power in 1999 in a military coup.
As well as his unpopular suspension of judges, the proceedings relate to the killing of a nationalist leader in a standoff with the Pakistani military and failing to provide adequate security for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated at a political rally during elections in December 2007.
Musharraf denies any wrongdoing.