Pakistan's former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, has been granted bail by country's top court, his lawyers have said, bringing closer his possible release after nearly six months of house arrest.

Ibrahim Satti, one of the defence lawyers, told AFP news agency on Wednesday that the court had granted bail in return for surety bonds worth two million rupees ($20,000).

His lawyers said he would fly to Dubai after his release. 

"Musharraf can fly to Dubai tomorrow once these legal formalities are completed," Ahmed Raza Kasuri, who heads the Musharraf defence team, told Reuters news agency.

"The jail staff present at his house will pack up and leave as soon as they get the orders from the lower court," he said.

A three-member Supreme Court bench granted bail to the former president over death of Akbar Bugti, the main rebel leader in the southwestern province of Balochistan.

Bugti was killed during an army operation in 2006 when Musharraf was head of the state.

Musharraf's lawyer said the ruling meant he was a "free man". But he is likely to remain under heavy guard at his villa on the outskirts of the capital, Islamabad, where he has been under house arrest since April.

Another counsel for Musharraf, Qamar Afzal, said bail was granted over lack of evidence.

'Politically motivated charges'

Musharraf's spokesman, Raza Bokhari, said the general was "gratified" by the bail ruling but determined to clear his name of charges he has always maintained were politically motivated.

"After all these formalities are finalised he would be free to travel within and outside Pakistan, but this is just the beginning. These court cases are a long run process," Bokhari told AFP.

Musharraf has now been granted bail in three major cases against him, including one relating to the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

As well as the Bugti and Bhutto cases, Musharraf also faces cases over the suspension of judges during emergency rule, which he imposed in 2007.

The Taliban have threatened to kill the 70-year-old former general, who as president allied Pakistan with Washington in the US "war on terror" in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March to run in the general election, but he was barred from standing in the election, won convincingly by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif - the man he ousted from power in 1999.

Source: Agencies