Islamabad: Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf was on Saturday remanded to judicial custody for a fortnight by an anti-terrorism court in the Pakistani capital, a day after his arrest in a case over the imposition of emergency rule in 2007. Judge Kausar Abbas Zaidi of the anti-terrorism court remanded the 69-year-old former military ruler to judicial custody after hearing arguments by Musharraf's lawyer and the counsel of several persons who filed petitions against him.
Zaidi briefly reserved his judgment before announcing his decision. He directed authorities to produce Musharraf in court again on May 4.
During the hearing held at the court complex in Sector F-8 of Islamabad, Musharraf's lawyer Qamar Afzal told the judge that he was cooperating with police officials investigating the detention of more than 60 judges during the emergency and should be remanded to judicial custody. Afzal opposed any move to remand Musharraf to police custody, citing security concerns. He further said Musharraf could approach the Supreme Court to appeal against the revocation of his bail by the Islamabad High Court.
The decision comes a day after he was arrested and lodged in the police headquarters in Islamabad.
Ashraf Gujjar, the counsel for those who filed petitions against Musharraf, contended he should be remanded to police custody as a fresh investigation would have to be conducted against the former President regarding the imposition of emergency. The local administration in Islamabad will now decide whether Musharraf should be held at his farmhouse at Chak Shahzad after it is declared a "sub-jail" or at some other secure location.
Chaotic scenes were witnessed at the court complex after Musharraf's motorcade of about 14 vehicles arrived there shortly after 10 am. Musharraf had to wait in his white SUV in the parking lot for over half an hour as security forces pushed back a large number of lawyers who had gathered to protest against the former army chief. A bomb disposal squad swept the area twice and security personnel cleared all buildings in the area.
The SUV was ringed by personnel from the Pakistan Rangers and Anti-Terrorism Squad as Musharraf sat inside. There was no expression on Musharraf's face as he walked the short distance from his SUV to the court, surrounded by his bodyguards and dozens of security personnel. He waved and saluted to his followers before walking to the courtroom on the first floor of the building. Musharraf waved to his followers again as he left the court and security personnel ensured that no one came close to him.
Slogan-shouting lawyers tried to rush towards Musharraf's motorcade as it drove out of the complex. The former army chief was driven from the court to the Islamabad Police headquarters, where he had spent the night. On Friday, a judicial magistrate had sent Musharraf on transit remand for two days. A person on transit remand has to be held at a police station.
Authorities declared the police headquarters a temporary police station and media reports said he was given a suite in the officers mess. Earlier this week, Musharraf fled from the Islamabad High Court after a judge revoked his pre-arrest bail and directed police to detain him over a case related to the detention of more than 60 judges during the emergency. He was arrested on Friday morning, becoming the first Pakistan Army chief to face such action.
(With additional information from PTI)