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Musharraf arrested, kept in police HQ

April 19, 2013

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In this Sunday, March 24, 2013 photo, former president Pervez Musharraf gestures upon his arrival at Karachi airport. — Photo by AP

ISLAMABAD: General (retd) Pervez Musharraf was shifted to the police headquarters in Islamabad from his farmhouse residence at Chak Shahzad on Friday, hours after the former military ruler surrendered himself to the authorities in the judges' detention case.

He surrendered himself earlier today before appearing in the court of judicial magistrate Raja Abbas Shah in Islamabad.

The judge issued an order for a two-day-long transit remand of Musharraf. The order also added clause 780-A pertaining to terrorism in the list of charges against the former army strongman.

During the hearing, petitioner's counsel, Advocate Mohammad Bilal Mughal, requested the court for a 15-day-long physical remand of the former president, whereas Musharraf's lawyer, Qamar Afzal, asked for a judicial remand for his client.

The court observed that the list of charges against Musharraf in the judges' detention case entailed terrorism clauses which was why bail could not be granted to the retired general without him surrendering to authorities.

Moreover, police told the court that Musharraf's life was in danger which was why his farmhouse residence needed to be declared a sub-jail.

Subsequently, the court added clause 780-A to the list of charges against Musharraf and ordered a two-day-long transit remand for the former president. An official at the court confirmed the order.

Musharraf will now appear before a special anti-terrorist court on April 21.

A spokesman for Musharraf's All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party said: “General Musharraf has been sent on a two-day judicial remand and he will stay at his farmhouse.”

APML spokesman Muhammad Amjad said the magistrate had ordered Musharraf to appear before an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi after two days.

“Musharraf himself surrendered before the court Friday morning,” Amjad said, denying media reports that he had been arrested prior to going to court.

Also today, Interior Minister Malik Muhammad Habib Khan informed the Senate that Musharraf was already in government’s custody and that the former military ruler‘s Chak Shahzad residence had been declared a sub-jail.

It is the first time that the judiciary has ordered the arrest of a former army chief of staff.

Musharraf had been on the run after fleeing from the premises of the Islamabad High Court in the wake of the cancellation of his bail on Thursday.  Twenty-four hours had passed since Musharraf's escape from the IHC. His bail was cancelled in the judges’ detention case by IHC’s Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on Thursday.

In its written judgement, the IHC had ordered that: “He (Musharraf) be taken into custody and dealt with in accordance with law.”

Judges’ detention case

The case is based on an FIR against the retired general registered in August 11, 2009 on the complaint of Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam Ghumman advocate.

He had asked the police to initiate legal proceedings against Musharraf for detaining over 60 judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, after proclamation of a state of emergency in the country on November 3, 2007.

The case is one of three against Musharraf in Pakistani courts. He is also accused of involvement in a conspiracy to murder Benazir Bhutto in 2007 and over the 2006 killing of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Khan Bugti.

Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest the May 11 general election.

Election officials had barred Musharraf from running for the National Assembly earlier this week, effectively derailing his attempts to regain a place in politics by standing at the polls.

Although Musharraf’s legal battles have provided an electrifying sideshow in the election race, he commands scant popular support and the outcome of the drama is unlikely to have much impact on the final results.