Islamabad: Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has been put under house arrest after a court cancelled his bail order on Thursday. The Islamabad High Court had ordered the arrest of the former army chief in a case over the imposition of emergency rule in 2007.
But in a dramatic escape, Musharraf's security personnel whisked him away from the court complex before the police could take him into custody. Earlier this week, Musharraf was also disqualified by the election commission from running in next month's general election.
Musharraf, 69, appeared in court on Thursday morning for the extension of his interim bail in a case related to the sacking of over 60 judges during the 2007 emergency. However, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui rejected his application and ordered police to arrest him.
Police tried to reach the former President but his security detail of army commandos rushed him out of the courtroom and escorted him to his black SUV. Musharraf's motorcade drove out of the complex before police could act.
A large contingent of police and paramilitary personnel deployed at the complex to provide security to Musharraf also did not act as the former dictator's bodyguards pushed through a crowd of lawyers and bystanders.
Musharraf, who returned to Pakistan on March 24 after a nearly four-year long self-imposed exile abroad to contest the May 11 general elections, is currently holed up in his Chak Shahzad farmhouse on the outskirts of the federal capital. If Musharraf is arrested, he would become the first former army chief to face such an action.
Analysts said this could put the judiciary in conflict with the powerful military, which would not like to see a former chief being humiliated or insulted in public. The analysts further said that if Musharraf was put on trial, members of the current military leadership, including army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, could be dragged into the matter as they were part of Musharraf's inner circle when he imposed emergency rule in 2007. In a message posted on Facebook, Musharraf's office said: "We expect this unwarranted judicial activism, seemingly motivated by personal vendettas since his return to Pakistan...will cease and the Supreme Court, without prejudice, will immediately grant necessary relief.. the absence of which can result in unnecessary tension amongst the various pillars of state and possibly destabilise the country".
Sources said that the government was considering a proposal to declare Musharraf's farmhouse a "sub-jail" so that he could be detained there. Authorities believe it would be better to hold Musharraf at his residence in view of serious threats to his life, the sources said.
The case against Musharraf is based on an FIR filed in August 2009 by a lawyer named Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam Ghumman. Ghumman had asked police to initiate proceedings against Musharraf for detaining over 60 judges, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, after imposing emergency on November 3, 2007.
Since Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month after nearly four years in self-exile, he has been in and out of court several times to get his bail extended over the 2007 killing of former premier Benazir Bhutto, the death of a Baloch leader Akbar Bugti in a 2006 military operation and for imposing emergency rule in 2007.
The Taliban have also threatened to target him. Earlier this week, Musharraf was disqualified from contesting next month's general election, effectively ending his ambitions for a political comeback.
Musharraf had overthrown then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999 and had ruled till 2008 when he resigned and went into self-exile. He had been shuttling between London and Dubai during his nearly four years of self-exile.
With Additional Inputs from PTI