Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf says he will return from self-imposed exile in Dubai to face a “fabricated” trial for the murder of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Musharraf’s announcement came on Sunday, days after the Rawalpindi Anti Terrorism Court pronounced him a fugitive in the trial for his alleged involvement in the 2007 assassination of Bhutto, the country’s first female prime minister.
“I will certainly come back to Pakistan and face the trial as and when I am medically fit,” Musharraf said in a statement. “I have been framed in the Benazir Bhutto murder case by way of political victimisation, while I had nothing to do with her untimely and tragic death.
“I have not been the beneficiary of prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s murder and the entire case as pitched against me is materially false, fictitious, fabricated and is a result of political intrigue.”
The verdicts were the first handed down since Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack nearly a decade ago, sparking street violence and plunging Pakistan into months of political turmoil.
Musharraf is alleged to have been part of a broad conspiracy to have his political rival killed before elections. He has denied the allegation.
He was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy for murder, and facilitation for murder in 2013 in an unprecedented move against an ex-army chief – challenging beliefs that the military is immune from prosecution.
But he has been in self-imposed exile in Dubai ever since a travel ban was lifted three years later.
Musharraf’s government blamed the assassination on Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement. He was killed in a US drone attack in 2009.