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Travel ban hearing for Musharraf postponed

KARACHI: A Pakistani court on Monday adjourned a hearing into a travel ban against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, his lawyer said, a day after the government announced it would try him for treason.
The former general applied last week to be removed from the government’s “exit control list” that stops him leaving Pakistan, to go to visit his sick mother in Dubai.
Musharraf is facing a host of criminal cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule, including for the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.
The Sindh High Court in Karachi put off considering Musharraf’s exit control list application until Nov. 22, after the government’s attorney-general failed to attend court, lawyer A.Q. Hallipota said.
The decision to try Musharraf for treason, announced live on TV by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, puts the country’s civilian leaders on an unprecedented collision course with the all-powerful military.
It comes after Musharraf was granted bail in other cases against him, stoking rumors a deal for his departure could be imminent.
The treason accusation relates to Musharraf’s decision in 2007 to impose emergency rule shortly before the Supreme Court was due to decide on the legality of his re-election as president a month earlier while he was still army chief.
Critics said the announcement smacked of political opportunism and appeared to be aimed at deflecting public attention from sectarian violence on Friday.
At least nine people were killed in Rawalpindi, which neighbors Islamabad, during clashes on the most important day of the mourning month of Moharram, traditionally a flashpoint for sectarian violence.
An editorial in Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest English-language newspaper, said that faced with mounting crises, the government had decided to “change the subject.”
Analyst and retired general Talat Masood said the timing of the announcement, just 10 days before army chief General Ashfaq Kayani is to step down, was “inappropriate.”