Pakistans former military ruler Pervez Musharraf made a dramatic escape from Islamabad High Court Thursday after the court ordered his immediate arrest for treason.
Musharraf ran from the courtroom before the police could react,his army commando bodyguards pushing a way through the throng of lawyers before whisking him away in a bulletproof black Toyota SUV.
The former dictator drove to his Chak Shahzad farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad,where he was holed up until late evening Thursday. A large number of policemen were stationed at the farmhouse,and the entire area was locked down.
Sources told PTI that the government was considering a proposal to declare Musharrafs farmhouse a sub-jail,so he could be detained there.
Musharraf faces serious threats to his life from the Pakistan Taliban.
Soon after Musharraf returned to the farmhouse,personnel of the Pakistan Rangers deployed to protect him left. Some analysts interpreted this as a signal that the security establishment would not back him.
The former presidents arrest appeared imminent after his lawyers failed to appeal to the Supreme Court against the high courts judgment. Dawn,quoting reports,said his lawyers had in fact attempted to file a pre-arrest bail application in the supreme court,but the 14-page plea was returned as the court registrars office had already shut for the day.
Musharraf,who returned on March 24 after nearly four years of self-imposed exile abroad,has had all his nomination papers for the May 11 election rejected. He appeared in court Thursday morning to seek extension of bail in a case related to his sacking of 60 judges during emergency rule in 2007. He faces charges of subverting the constitution by declaring emergency,and therefore,of treason.
As Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered police to arrest him immediately,the 69-year-old former Pakistan army chief fled from the court,with lawyers chasing after him,shouting,Look who is running,Musharraf is running!
Musharraf had been granted temporary bail for the judges case and two others before he landed in Karachi from Dubai. Judge Siddiqui,who had once extended the bail on April 12,refused to do so Thursday,saying the case was too serious,one of Musharrafs lawyers,Mailk Qamar Afzal said. Another lawyer,Ahmad Raza Kasuri said the court had not listened to them,and had made a one-sided decision.
On Thursday evening,as Musharrafs arrest seemed imminent,Mohammad Amjad,a leader of his All Pakistan Muslim League,said the former ruler would act according to the law and,if legal experts deemed it necessary,he would surrender to the authorities.