Islamabad: A police team has reached the residence of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on the outskirts of Islamabad to arrest him after he fled from the Islamabad High Court following a court order to arrest him. Musharraf fled from the court premises with the help of his bodyguards after the court ordered his arrest in a case related to the confinement of over 60 judges in 2007 when he was the president.
Musharraf is reportedly holed up inside his farmhouse at Chak Shahzad near Islamabad along with his security guards. A large number of Musharraf's supporters, gathered at the court complex, scuffled with lawyers, who called on police to implement the High Court's order to arrest the former President.
He is likely to approach the Pakistan Supreme Court on Thursday to appeal an order issued by the Islamabad High Court for his immediate arrest, a leader of his party said. Musharraf had consulted his aides and legal experts and decided to approach the apex court for relief, All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) secretary general Muhammad Amjad told the media outside the former military ruler's farmhouse.
Speaking hours after the High Court cancelled Musharraf's bail and directed police to arrest him, Amjad said, "We have decided that since the Supreme Court has already said Musharraf will not be arrested for another case seeking his trial for treason, we will approach the Supreme Court to confirm his bail".
The appeal is expected to be filed this afternoon, Amjad said. "Pervez Musharraf is fine, he is not worried. He has always said he is not scared of anyone. If it is necessary, he will present himself for arrest. But it is not necessary that that he will be arrested immediately if a High Court suddenly dismisses his bail, for whatever reason. The district police can be informed and they can make the arrest. He has not escaped from the city," Amjad said.
Musharraf, 69, fled from the Islamabad High Court complex after Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui cancelled his bail and directed police to immediately arrest him. Musharraf had appeared in the court on Thursday morning to seek extension of his interim bail in a case related to the sacking of over 60 judges during the 2007 emergency.
Police tried to reach the former President but his bodyguards rushed him out of the courtroom and escorted him to his black SUV. Musharraf's motorcade drove out of the court complex before police could act.
Musharraf drove from the court complex to his farmhouse at Chak Shahzad on the outskirts of Islamabad. About two hours later, police sealed all roads leading to the farmhouse and asked motorists to take different routes.
A contingent of paramilitary Pakistan Rangers deployed at the farmhouse left soon after he returned. Footage on television showed the troopers driving away from the farmhouse. Sources told PTI 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 farmhouse in view of serious threats to his life, the sources said. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said Musharraf's actions in court highlighted his disregard for due legal process.
HRW reiterated its call that Musharraf be held accountable for abuses and said a fair trial for the former military ruler is "key to ending impunity for abuses by Pakistan's security forces". "Musharraf's act today underscores his disregard for due legal process and indicates his assumption that as a former army chief and military dictator he can evade accountability for abuses," said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director for HRW.
"It is essential that Pakistan's military authorities which are protecting the former dictator comply with the Islamabad High Court's orders and ensure that he presents himself for arrest. Continued military protection for Musharraf will make a mockery of claims that Pakistan's armed forces support the rule of law and bring the military further disrepute that it can ill afford," he said.
(With additional information from PTI)