KARACHI, Pakistan — An angry lawyer threw a shoe at former president Pervez Musharraf as he headed to court in southern Pakistan on Friday to face charges following his return to the country after four years in exile, police said.
Meanwhile, a Taliban suicide bomber on a bicycle attacked the convoy of a paramilitary police commander in northwestern Pakistan, killing 11 people, including a 4-month-old infant, police said.
Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in 1999 but was forced to step down nearly a decade later, is disliked by lawyers because he suspended the Supreme Court chief justice while he was in office.
The lawyer tossed his shoe at the former military strongman in a hallway in the court building in Karachi as he was surrounded by a mob of security, supporters, and journalists, said police official Nasir Aftab.
The shoe did not hit Musharraf, and no charges were filed, said Aftab. Throwing a shoe is a potent insult because the sole is considered unclean.
Television channels showed video of the incident, but it was impossible to identify the shoe thrower because he was hidden behind part of the corridor.
Judges later granted Musharraf a preemptive bail extension in three cases, meaning he won’t be immediately arrested.
Two cases involve the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and the killing of Akbar Bugti, a Baluch nationalist leader who died in August 2006 after a standoff with Pakistan’s military. Musharraf was granted an extension of 21 days in those two cases.
He was granted a 15-day extension in connection with a third case, in which he is accused of illegally removing a number of judges, including the Supreme Court chief justice, said Shahadat Awan, the prosecutor general for surrounding Sindh Province.
Musharraf was restricted from leaving the country during the period that his bail was extended, state TV reported.
Musharraf returned from exile last Sunday, seeking a possible political comeback despite the legal charges and death threats from Taliban militants. He was met by several thousand people when his flight from Dubai landed in Karachi, and analysts do not expect his party to attract much support in parliamentary elections scheduled for May 11.
Musharraf seized power in 1999 when he was serving as Pakistan’s army chief.
He was forced to step down in 2008 and left the country amid discontent with his rule and threats of impeachment by the country’s main political parties. His decision to suspend the Supreme Court chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, played a key role in reducing his popularity. Chaudhry has been reinstated.
In Karachi, a group of lawyers protested outside the Sindh High Court as Musharraf entered. They chanted slogans and jostled with his supporters.