Policemen at the site of the explosion in Islamabad on Thursday. (AFP)
Islamabad, April 3: A bomb apparently directed at Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani military ruler, went off early today, minutes after his convoy had passed a traffic intersection in Islamabad, the capital, police officials said.
The bomb went off as Musharraf was secretly being shifted from a military hospital in Rawalpindi to his farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad.
The blast did not cause any casualties to Musharraf’s security convoy, police officials said. But the explosion left a foot-deep crater on a sidewalk near a busy traffic intersection on the boundary line between Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
“The explosion occurred after Musharraf’s convoy had passed,” said Pervaiz Rashid, the Pakistani information minister. “Investigations are underway.”
Musharraf, who has been charged with treason, was admitted on January 2 to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology after he complained of sudden heart trouble while he was on the way to attend his trial.
Police official Mohammed Hayat said the blast was caused by 2kg of explosives, adding that it was not clear whether it was a remote control or time device. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Musharraf’s spokeswoman, Aasia Ishaq, said the retired general was fine and reached his home safely but that it was up to the authorities to make sure nothing happens to him.
“All extremist and terrorist forces want to kill Musharraf,” said the spokeswoman. “If anything happens to Musharraf, the government will be responsible.”
Earlier yesterday, Musharraf was formally indicted in the treason trial, an unprecedented development in the country’s history. No military ruler has ever been tried on treason charges or on other counts of abuse of power. The powerful military has traditionally maintained an overarching influence over the civilian government.
| Policemen at the site of the explosion in Islamabad on Thursday. (AFP)
Musharraf is accused of subverting the Constitution in 2007 when he fired top members of the judiciary to stem a growing Opposition movement. But the move backfired as Musharraf’s political party lost the 2008 national elections in a thumping defeat.
Musharraf later resigned, under the threat of impeachment, opting for self-imposed exile in London and Dubai.
In 2013, Musharraf returned to the country to revive his political fortunes and participate in general elections. But he was barred from taking part in the elections by the courts, and his political party, All Pakistan Muslim League, failed to gain any traction.
To add to his woes, Musharraf found himself facing several court cases related to his time in power, the treason charges being the most serious as they carry a death penalty if he is convicted.
Musharraf has vociferously denied the charges, saying they stem from political vendettas.
Also today, lawyers for Musharraf filed an application before the country’s Supreme Court, asking that he be allowed to travel abroad for medical treatment and visit his mother, who is in critical condition in a hospital in the United Arab Emirates.