In keeping with his style, former president Pervez Musharraf has hit back against the court verdict declaring him a fugitive in the Benazir Bhutto murder trial saying that he will return to the country to face charges – with one very important provision; he will do it once he “recovers from his illness”.

What is this mysterious illness and when will he recover from it remains uncertain. Presumably spinal cord pain – the “illness” that the former dictator is suffering from – could be treated in Pakistan, and certainly isn’t one that absolutely prevents him from returning to the country. The bottom line being; if the general really wants to return to the county and face charges like he has said several times, there is nothing stopping him from doing so.

But such considerations do not apply to a fugitive from the law. Considering the heavy sentence meted out to the police constables for tampering with the crime scene, the man who presumably ordered such action is in for a tough line of questioning. More importantly, having won his exile through a protracted effort from the military establishment, it is not likely that the former dictator will throw it away. Like much else in his political career, much that Musharraf says seems like bluster.

Furthermore, the ‘illness that can only be treated abroad’ is the standard operating procedure for people seeking to escape jail cells. Pakistani law allows people to seek temporary respite from incarceration on humanitarian ground and that small leeway has been exploited by lawyers countless times. Currently Dr Asim Hussain is the one that is trying to pull this maneuver.

Prevez Musharraf needs to return to the country and face charges. His excuses are running thin, as are his avenues of legal respite. Musharraf needs to either quit his misplaced machismo or stay true to his word and return to face justice.