Pakistan's former President Pervez Musharraf narrowly escaped an attempt on his life on the way home from the hospital yesterday, when a bomb set up along his route home failed to hit its target. This is not the first time the former president has survived such an attempt.
According to the Associated Press, police official Mohammed Hayat said the blast went off along the road Musharraf had traveled on when heading to his Islamabad home from the military hospital in Rawalpindi:
Musharraf's convoy had crossed a bridge entering the capital when the bomb exploded shortly after, Hayat said. He said the blast was caused by 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of explosives, adding that it was not clear whether it was a remote control or time device. Hayat said Musharraf appeared to be the target of the blast but it was not immediately clear how far his vehicle was from the explosion.
No group has yet taken responsibility for the attack.
Musharraf, 70, took the presidency in a 1999 coup and stayed in office until 2008, when he stepped down and fled the country because had become so unpopular. The disgraced leader returned to Pakistan in March 2013, where he declared his candidacy for president and was quickly disqualified for suspending the Pakistani constitution and firing judges while he was in charge. Since his return, Musharraf has been charged with treason, among other things, and has faced consistent death threats from the Taliban and other militant groups, (while not being that well liked among regular citizens either.) According to his spokeswoman Aasia Ishaq, "All extremist and terrorist forces want to kill Musharraf."
The general was taken to the military hospital for heart problems in January while, suspiciously, en route to appear before a court in his high treason trial. He was in the hospital until today, but pleaded "not guilty" to the five charges of treason on Monday. The trial, according to the Reuters, is a landmark event:
The case marks the first time a former military officer of Musharraf's rank has appeared in court before a judge in a country where the military has rarely been challenged by either the government or the judiciary. "I would like to ask where is the justice for me in the Islamic republic of Pakistan ... I have only given to this country and not taken anything," Musharraf said. "I prefer death to surrender."
According to Ishaq, Musharraf is safe at home, though it appears he's expecting more threats to come:
pic: Trenches being dug around Musharraf's residence in Chak Shahzad, due to security threats pic.twitter.com/p8GbjC1N3x— JAAG TV (@JaagAlerts) April 3, 2014
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.