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The case is also part of a strange changing of places for Mr. Sharif and Mr. Musharraf. It was Mr. Sharif who was deposed by Mr. Musharraf in 1999 and then forced into exile. But Mr. Sharif eventually returned to Pakistan, waited out five years in opposition and then led his Pakistan Muslim League-N to a resounding victory in the May 11 elections.

Mr. Sharif must tread carefully with the man who once put him in handcuffs. The new prime minister has his plate full of other problems, and pushing aggressively for Mr. Musharraf’s conviction could force a confrontation with the military that Mr. Sharif would prefer to avoid.

Mr. Musharraf has been confined to his house on the outskirts of Islamabad and was brought to court Tuesday amid tight security.

In addition to the Bhutto case, Mr. Musharraf is involved in a case related to the 2007 detention of judges and the death of a Baluch nationalist leader. The government is also pursuing a treason case against him in connection with the judges’ detention case.

Mr. Musharraf has faced threats from the Pakistani Taliban, who tried to assassinate him twice while he was in office and vowed to try again if he returned.

• Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this article.