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Former Pakistan ruler Musharraf leaves country for treatment after government lifts travel ban

Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has left the country after the Supreme Court lifted a three-year travel ban. The reason given for his trip to Dubai was medical treatment.

Musharraf left Pakistan on March 18 to receive spinal treatment in Dubai after Pakistan's Supreme Court had ordered the government to lift a

travel ban

imposed on him as he awaited trial on treason charges.

Pakistani Media showed images of Musharraf leaving his home for the airport in the port city of Karachi. He later reportedly entered the airport through a gate reserved for staff and left for Dubai on an Emirates flight at 3:55 a.m. local time on March 18 (22:55 UTC on March 17). He was the last person to board the flight.

"I am a commando and I love my homeland," Musharraf said at the airport.

"I will come back in a few weeks or months."

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the former ruler was being allowed to travel abroad for treatment after a commitment from his lawyers saying that he would return in four to six weeks' time to face the charges against him.

A contentious figure

Pervez Musharraf came to power in 1999 in a bloodless coup against current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, only standing down nine years later when threatened with impeachment. After nearly four years of self-imposed exile Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March 2013, despite the possibility of arrest and death threats.

He was acquitted earlier this year of the murder of a separatist leader in 2006, but he continues to face treason and other charges in court. He has also been linked to the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister

Benazir Bhutto

.

Musharraf had been under house arrest in Karachi while the cases wound their way through Pakistan's notoriously

slow legal system

, with little progress observed. Analysts believe that the government lacks the will to offend Pakistan's powerful military by pushing for Musharraf's prosecution.

Pakistan's military has ruled the South Asian nation for almost half of its 69-year history. It is in charge of setting foreign and security policy even when civilian administrations are in power.

ss/bw (Reuters, AFP)

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