Musharraf lashes out after arrest
19 April 2013, 15:50
Islamabad - Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf
criticised allegations against him as "politically motivated" Friday,
following his arrest in a case involving his decision to fire senior judges
while in power.
Police arrested Musharraf overnight at his home in the
capital, Islamabad, where he holed up following a dramatic escape from court on
Thursday morning to avoid being detained. Musharraf fled the Islamabad High
Court in a speeding vehicle after a judge rejected his bail and ordered his
It was a new low in Musharraf's troubled return from
self-imposed exile last month to attempt a political comeback in the upcoming parliamentary
Police presented Musharraf before Islamabad District Court
on Friday morning after arresting him, said police officer Mohammed Khalid.
Local TV video showed Musharraf entering the court surrounded by a heavy
security detachment of police and paramilitary soldiers.
The district court judge instructed police to keep Musharraf
in their custody for two days and then present him before an anti-terrorism
court, said one of his lawyers, Malik Qamar Afzal. His legal team is trying to
decide what to do next, said Afzal.
Police returned Musharraf to his home on the outskirts of
Islamabad, where he is being held under house arrest, said police officer
"These allegations are politically motivated, and I
will fight them in the trial court, where the truth will eventually
prevail," Musharraf said in a message posted on his Facebook page Friday
after he was arrested.
The decision by the police to arrest Musharraf ended an
awkward situation in which the former military ruler was being protected by
security forces for hours while holed up in his house, but none of them made a
move to detain him. They were likely awaiting orders from senior officials
trying to figure out how to deal with the delicate situation.
Taliban death threats
Pakistan's government has been reluctant to wade into the
controversy surrounding Musharraf since he returned last month, especially
given his position as a former chief of the army, considered the most powerful
institution in the country.
His return also presents complications for the current army
chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who may have to decide whether to intervene
to protect Musharraf or watch him be prosecuted. If Musharraf is sent to
prison, it would be the first time an army chief has been put behind bars in
the country's 65-year history.
Musharraf seized control in a coup in 1999 and spent nearly
a decade in power before being forced to step down in 2008. Despite legal
challenges and Taliban death threats, he returned last month after four years
in London and Dubai.
But he has received paltry public support, and earlier this
week he was disqualified from running in the May 11 election because of his
actions while in power. A court has also barred him from leaving the country.
The upcoming vote is historic because it will mark the first
time in Pakistan that parliament has completed its full five-year term and
handed over power in democratic elections. The country has experienced three
military coups and constant political instability since it was founded in 1947.
Thursday's case before the Islamabad High Court involved
Musharraf's decision to dismiss senior judges, including the chief justice of
the Supreme Court, when he declared a state of emergency and suspended the
constitution in 2007. He was concerned the judges would challenge his
re-election as president, citing the growing Taliban insurgency in the country
as justification for the state of emergency.
The man who filed the petition before the Islamabad High
Court, Aslam Ghuman, also accused Musharraf of placing the judges under house
Musharraf's spokesperson, Aasia Ishaq, denied he issued an
arrest order then, even though the judges were clearly confined to their homes.
Government officials at the time claimed they restricted the movement of the
judges for their own security.
Musharraf's crackdown on the judges outraged many Pakistanis
and fuelled a nationwide protest movement by lawyers that eventually resulted
in him stepping down under threat of impeachment.
Before he returned to the country, Musharraf was granted
bail for the judges' case and two others, meaning he could not be arrested when
he landed - a feature of Pakistan's legal system. But the bail agreement was
An Islamabad High Court judge, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who
extended the bail agreement once on April 12, refused to do so again on Thursday
and ordered Musharraf's arrest, according to a copy of the court order. The
judge ordered Musharraf to be investigated under an anti-terrorism law, which
does not allow bail, the order said.
Siddiqui wrote that Musharraf's "shameful"
decision to arrest judges "spread fear in society ... and terror
Immediately following the judge's arrest order, Musharraf's
bodyguards hustled him out of the court past policemen and paramilitary
soldiers and helped him into a black SUV. The vehicle sped off with a member of
Musharraf's security team hanging on the side of the vehicle.
The security forces on duty at the court seemed caught off
guard, and nobody appeared to try to prevent Musharraf from leaving as he
pushed past them.
Lawyers taunted the 69-year-old as he roared away, yelling,
"Look who is running! Musharraf is running!"
Musharraf is facing a raft of other legal challenges,
including allegations before the Supreme Court that he committed treason while
in power. He also faces legal charges in two other cases. One involves
allegations that Musharraf didn't provide adequate security to former Prime
Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in a gunfire and suicide attack in
2007. The other relates to the death of a nationalist leader in Baluchistan in
Given the legal challenges and Taliban threats against
Musharraf, many experts have been left scratching their heads as to why he
returned. Some have speculated he misjudged the level of public backing he
would get, while others suggested he was simply homesick.