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Former Pakistani dictator Musharraf granted bail

Pakistan's former President and head of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) political party Pervez Musharraf salutes as he arrives to unve
Pakistan's former President and head of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) political party Pervez Musharraf salutes as he arrives to unve

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A Pakistani court on Monday granted bail to former army chief and president Pervez Musharraf who has been under house arrest on charges of failing to provide adequate security for former prime minister Benazir Bhutto before her 2007 assassination.

Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup, returned to Pakistan in March after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest a May 11 general election, but he was disqualified from standing because of pending court cases.

The election was won by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister Musharraf ousted in his coup 14 years ago.

Musharraf became the first former army chief to be arrested, breaking an unwritten rule that the top ranks of the military are untouchable, even after they have retired.

But the current army chief has suggested the military is unhappy with how authorities have treated Musharraf.

On April 20, a court remanded the former president in custody for two weeks as judges pushed ahead with plans to put Musharraf on trial for a crackdown on the judiciary during his time in office.

On April 30, an anti-terrorism court put Musharraf on 14-day judicial remand for charges of failing to provide adequate security for Bhutto before her 2007 assassination.

The acceptance of the former commando's bail application could see him leave the country despite the fact that the Supreme Court has directed that he should stay put.

Many observers believe a face-saving reason for his departure, perhaps on grounds of ill health, will be found.

(Reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Nick Macfie and Robert Birsel)

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