Returning to the country he once ruled to face his critics—and possibly prison—former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf found at least one countryman who wasn't happy to see him. As he was making his way to court to defend himself against conspiracy and corruption charges today, an unknown lawyer hurled a shoe Musharraf's head, barely missing him. This Pakistani news video captured the chaos.
As you probably know—and as former President Bush (and maybe Ahmadinejad) could tell you—showing someone the bottom of your shoes, or hitting them with your shoes, is a considered a grave insult in most South Asian cultures.
Unfortunately, for Musharraf, a shoe to the head is the least of his worries. The general-turned-dictator has been in exile for four years after being forced to resign amid a judicial scandal that culminated with him firing the nation's Chief Justice. He's also been brought up on murder conspiracy charges over the deaths of dozens of protesters killed by security forces, and the assassination of another former Pakistani leader, Benazir Bhutto.
In fact, Musharraf's current predicament is painfully reminiscent of Bhutto's fate. The former Prime Minister was herself exiled in the late 1990s, but ignored death threats to return to Pakistan in 2007 and try and reclaim her place in politics. Just two months after her return, she was assassinated at a political rally, by al-Qaeda linked terrorists.
There are some who claim Musharraf's government was culpable in her death, or at the very least failed in their duty to protect her. He has claimed all the charges against him are baseless and has returned with the goal of getting them dismissed in court. He has also received death threats from the Pakistani Taliban, and today's shoe throwing incident, while harmless, underscores that dangers he'll face whenever he shows his face in public.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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