Former Pakistani president Musharraf released

Islamabad, Nov 6 (IANS) Pakistan's former president Pervez Musharraf was released Wednesday, two days after a court granted him bail in the murder case of the deputy chief of Islamabad's Red Mosque, who was killed in a military raid in 2007, his lawyer said.

Musharraf had already got bail in three cases, including the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Additional Session Judge in Islamabad, Wajid Ali, earlier issued written orders for Musharraf's release after his defence lawyers deposited two surety bonds, each of Rs.100,000, reported Xinhua.

Musharraf, 70, was formally arrested Oct 10 in the murder case of Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the senior cleric of the Red Mosque, weeks after Ghazi's son Haroon Rasheed registered the murder charge against him with the police in Islamabad.

Police personnel were removed from the Islamabad farmhouse of Musharraf, where he had been detained since April, as the release order was delivered to the jail officials deployed there.

Musharraf's lawyer, Ahmed Reza Kasuri, confirmed to the media that the former president has been set free.

Talking to reporters outside Musharraf's home, Kasuri denied any deal for the release of Musharraf and said he has been freed through legal process. He said Musharraf is likely to address a news conference Thursday spelling out his future strategy.

Dozens of Musharraf's supporters also arrived at the farmhouse at Chak Shehzad in Islamabad and chanted slogans in his favour. They also distributed sweets to celebrate Musharraf's release.

The former military ruler returned to the country in March to contest the May parliamentary polls. However, a court disqualified him from standing in the elections over his sacking of the elected government in 1999 and imposing emergency in 2007.

It is widely believed in Pakistan that bail to Musharraf in the mosque case has paved the way for his going abroad.

Some opposition leaders say the government and the former president have entered into a secret deal that will allow Musharraf to leave the country. But the government has not confirmed any such deal.

However, Musharraf's lawyer insisted that the former military leader will not leave the country.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had said that the former military ruler could not leave the country as his name is included in the list of those who are barred from going abroad.

The former military ruler also faces high treason charges as he had suspended the constitution and imposed emergency in 2007. The high treason case was initiated after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced in June that his government had formally approached the Supreme Court for Musharraf's trial.

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