ISLAMABAD, April 19: Former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf was finally arrested on Friday in judges’ detention case and was shifted to the Police Line Headquarters from his Chak Shahzad farmhouse. Interestingly, the former military dictator has been detained at a place which is opposite a graveyard where unidentified bodies of people killed during Lal Masjid operation had been buried.
The general who is the first former army chief and head of state to be arrested has been kept at the Officers’ Mess and given the suite of Inspector General of Police. Sources said Gen Musharraf who was wearing a light brown Shalwar Kamiz looked depressed.
“He was not happy over the room given to him and his feelings were visible on his face,” they said, although policemen, including officers, were treating him as if he was still the country’s president.
The sources said the retired general had been assured that he would be shifted to his residence or a better place after some legal proceedings.
Policemen and paramilitary troops have also been deployed around and on the roof of the Officers’ Mess.
A senior police officer told Dawn that the delay in arresting the accused and producing him before the court was because police and the local administration were waiting for a signal from their seniors. Later, the permission was also taken to shift him to the headquarters, he added.
He said the former president had been shifted to the headquarters because he was on a transit remand. During such a remand, an accused can be detained only in a police station or at a police installation.
The officer said the police would try to get a judicial remand and submit a challan of the case as soon as possible.
Earlier, a local court in Islamabad rejected the police plea for the grant of 14 days’ judicial remand in the judges detention case and directed them to produce Gen Musharraf before the anti-terrorism court (ATC) in a couple of days.
The police also tried to produce the former president before the ATC of Islamabad on Friday but because of non-availability of the judge they could not obtain the 14-day judicial remand and he was subsequently taken to the police lines from his farmhouse.
Sources in the Islamabad administration told Dawn that after the dismissal of Gen Musharraf’s pre-arrest bail on Thursday, police had forwarded a request to declare his Chak Shahzad farmhouse as a sub-jail, but it was declined because the farmhouse could not be declared a sub-jail until the court sent the accused on a judicial remand. In routine cases, during the judicial remand an accused remains in the central jail.
The police informed the judge that after the rejection of Gen Musharraf’s bail by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) they had arrested him the same day. The SHO sought the 14 days’ judicial remand to investigate the allegations levelled against him by a complainant in the FIR.
In the FIR registered with the Secretariat police on Aug 11, 2009, complainant advocate Aslam Ghumman had accused Gen Musharraf of detaining 60 judges of the superior courts for more than five months after the imposition of emergency on Nov 3, 2007.
The judge observed that the IHC had pointed out on April 18 that the judges detention was not a case of an ordinary nature but an act of terrorism. “Since the police had already been bound down to act upon the directions, so investigation officer of the case is strictly directed to adhere to the order of the court in letter and spirit,” he added.
The court, however, granted two days’ transit custody of Gen Musharraf to the police and directed them to produce him before the “court of competent jurisdiction/Anti Terrorism Court on or before April 21, 2013”.
Gen Musharraf had arrived before civil judge Abbas Shah at 8.15am at the district courts in Sector F-8 of Islamabad amid tight security and remained there for about half an hour.
A number of Rangers officials and policemen had been deployed at the district courts before the arrival of Gen Musharraf and they remained in the court premises a few minutes after his departure.
The court after hearing the arguments reserved the order and Gen Musharraf stayed in his bullet-proof vehicle parked in the court premises for a while and then returned to his Chak Shahzad farmhouse. Some lawyers changed slogans against him while he was leaving the court.
The sources said the police authorities then decided to produce him before the ATC of Rawalpindi for obtaining his judicial remand. They also consulted some senior IHC officials who informed them that the ATC in Islamabad had already been functional and its charge had been given to district and sessions judge (east) Syed Kausar Abbas Zaidi.
The Secretariat police again approached the Islamabad ATC after 12 noon, but ATC Judge Mr Zaidi was not in the courtroom. An official of the district courts told Dawn on condition of anonymity that Mr Zaidi had left the court before the arrival of police officials because he had to attend the “International Judicial Conference” being held at the Supreme Court.
According to him, the IHC administration had not informed the ATC judge about the arrival of the former president and without such advice the judge could not take up such matter after the court timing.
Gen Musharraf remained in his farmhouse till 2.30pm but when it was conveyed to him that the ATC was not going to take up the matter the police shifted him to the police lines.
The retired general travelled in his vehicle, driven by a policeman, and was accompanied by ex-army man SP retired Capt Mohammad Ilyas.
Meanwhile, the appearance of the former president before the Islamabad High Court for seeking bail surprised the police as well legal experts. They said the accused had been booked under PPC 344 which was a bailable offence and even an SHO or a judge of district and sessions court, including a civil judge, could grant bail to someone accused of the offence.
The legal experts were of the opinion that Gen Musharraf or his counsel could easily get bail from SHO and magistrate by submitting surety bonds.
The Inspector General of Police, Bani Amin Khan, also ordered an inquiry and appointed Assistant Inspector General of Police (operation) Dr Sultan Azam Temuri to investigate the escape of the former president from the IHC and fix responsibility.
INTERIM BAIL INEFFECTIVE: The interim bail granted to Gen Musharraf by the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench in the murder case of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has also become invalid because he did not deposit surety bonds of Rs1 million.
The bench comprising Justice Abdul Sami Khan and Justice Ali Baqir Najafi had on April 17 granted the interim bail subject to furnishing of Rs1m surety bonds.
Sources in the LHC said that neither Gen Musharraf nor someone else on his behalf had deposited the bonds and the concession of bail was no more effective.
The LHC had also directed Gen Musharraf to join the investigation into the Benazir murder case but, according to an FIA official, the former president did not do so.
Senior lawyer Chaudhry Abdul Aziz said non-compliance with the court’s orders would create further troubles for the former president. He said the interim bail had been granted on certain conditions and if Gen Musharraf did not fulfil these the prosecuting agency would be in a better position to demand the dismissal of his bail plea.
Gen Musharraf’s counsel Qamar Afzal told Dawn that the LHC had granted the interim bail on April 17, but sudden cancellation of his pre-arrest bail by the IHC had disrupted their entire strategy and subsequently they could not deposit the surety bonds.
He said the former president had sought the bail before arrest to avoid arrest but he had been arrested and, therefore, “it doesn’t matter if he deposits any surety bond to continue interim bail in the Benazir murder case”.
“Mr Musharraf is in the police custody and the prosecution agency in the Benazir murder case can interrogate him in the police lines where he is currently confined,” Mr Afzal said.
MUSHARRAF’S ESCAPE: The Islamabad High Court directed the interior secretary on Friday to take action against the Inspector General of Islamabad police.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui asked the secretary to proceed against IG Bani Amin Khan as “he failed to perform his duty” which resulted in the escape of Gen Musharraf from the courtroom.
The judge rejected a report submitted by the IG in which some junior police officers had been held responsible for Gen Musharraf’s escape. Justice Siddiqui set aside the show-cause notices and suspension orders issued to the low-ranking police officers.
“After the escape of the accused, the SSP Islamabad also visited and searched the house of the accused in Chak Shahzad, but he was not there,” the IG said in his report.
Justice Siddiqui asked a number of questions and observed in the order that the answers given by Bani Amin were not satisfactory. He directed Additional IG Sultan Azam Temori to submit a report on April 23 clearly mentioning the steps police had taken to arrest the former president.
Meanwhile, police sources said that Begum Sehba Musharraf, the wife of the former army chief, visited the Police Line Headquarters late on Friday night amid strict security. She remained there for about 30 minutes and left in a car escorted by Rangers officials.