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Pakistan: Musharraf advised to move to US hospital

A supporter Pakistan's former president military ruler Pervez Musharraf holds poster with phohim during news conference with Musharraf's lawyers outside

A supporter of Pakistan's former president and military ruler Pervez Musharraf holds a poster with a photo of him during a news conference with Musharraf's lawyers outside the special court in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. A lawyer for Musharraf who is on trial for high treason said his client has been advised to go to the U.S. for medical treatment. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

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ISLAMABAD (AP) — A lawyer representing Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf in his high treason trial said Thursday that his client needs to go to the U.S. for further medical treatment following a heart scare.

The development is the latest twist in a series of legal cases Musharraf has faced since returning to Pakistan nearly a year ago. It came as the retired general failed yet again to appear in court.

The lawyer, Anwar Mansoor Khan, submitted a letter to the court from a doctor at the Paris Regional Medical Center in Paris, Texas. The letter, signed by the Director of Interventional Cardiology at the Texas center, Arjumand Hashmi, asked that Musharraf be transferred to the hospital.

Musharraf is currently a patient at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi, just outside of the capital, Islamabad. He was taken there after suffering a “heart problem” on the way to court Jan. 2 after failing to appear at previous proceedings.

The judges ruled last week that Musharraf was to appear in court Thursday, but he did not attend the hearing. His lawyers said Musharraf is still not well.

The court now has decided to obtain a medical report from doctors at the Rawalpindi hospital to determine how precarious Musharraf’s condition is, said Abdul Ghani Soomro, the court registrar.

Musharraf’s repeated failure to appear in court and his admission to the hospital has led to speculation that he’ll leave the country under the guise of seeking medical treatment abroad.

The high treason case stems from Musharraf’s 2007 decision to impose a state of emergency and detain a number of judges.

Musharraf took power in a 1999 coup and ruled until he was forced to step down in 2008. He later left the country.

The 70-year-old former army commando returned to Pakistan in March 2013, hoping for a political comeback but instead got embroiled in court cases relating to his near-decade in power. He’s also been threatened by militants who would like to see him dead for ordering a series of military operations against their strongholds in northwestern Pakistan.

On Thursday, a bomb ripped through a crowded Sunni Islamic seminary in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing eight people and wounding 60, provincial spokesman Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said.

The explosion took place as thousands of people had gathered at the Tableeghi Jamaat religious school ahead of the traditional Islamic day of prayers Friday, police officer Malik Javed said. Tableeghi Jamaat adherents generally gather at the sprawling seminary and mosque located on the outskirts of Peshawar on Thursday nights, as well as Fridays.

Another police official, Shafqat Malik, said the bomb was 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of explosives stuffed into a canister likely set off by a timer.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but militants often have targeted houses of worship with bombs timed to kill the highest number of people.

Sunni militants often target mosques belonging to Shiite Muslims who are a minority in Pakistan and across the world. They also have targeted Sunni Muslims who do not ascribe to their strict interpretation of Islam.



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