Pakistan's Musharraf wants heart surgery abroad
Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf wants to travel abroad for heart surgery requiring special equipment not available at home, legal sources said Friday quoting from a new medical report.
Musharraf faces treason charges dating back to his 1999-2008 rule but has not shown up for any hearings of a special tribunal due to security fears and lately a heart complaint.
The 70-year-old former army chief has been in a military hospital since falling ill while travelling to the tribunal on January 2.
An earlier diagnosis from the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology, where Musharraf is being treated, said he was suffering coronary artery disease and his lawyers have suggested he should be treated abroad.
The full report was not released but a legal source who has read it shared some of its contents with reporters.
The source said that in the report, Musharraf said he needed "special equipment for his heart surgery which is only available abroad".
The earlier report recommended angiography to fully establish the severity of Musharraf's condition and whether bypass surgery was needed.
"Angiography is a diagnostic process but it may result into main coronary surgery," the source said about the content of the new report.
"General Musharraf wants that the surgery should be done by a hospital which has all the equipments."
There have been rumours Musharraf's ill-health would be used as a face-saving way to get him out of the country before the trial gets fully under way.
This would avoid a potentially destabilising clash between the government, which brought the charges, and the powerful military.
But the former general remains under a travel ban which government ministers have repeatedly said they will not lift. Musharraf himself has previously said he wants to fight and clear his name.
The report said the stressful nature of the hearings meant Musharraf was not able to appear in person.
"The report says that General Musharraf cannot appear into the places where stress is involved because the disease is unpredictable," he added.
Prosecutor Akram Shaikh challenged the report and said that the court should send the new medical report to an independent panel of surgeons at leading civil hospitals of Pakistan.
"According to us he is hale and hearty," he said.
Musharraf's camp says the treason allegations, which relate to his imposition of emergency rule in November 2007, are politically motivated.
Aside from the treason allegations, Musharraf also faces trial over the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the death of a rebel leader, a deadly raid on a radical mosque and the detention of judges.
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