A Pakistani court on Friday remanded beleaguered former President Pervez Musharraf to judicial custody for 14 days while another court rejected a request to bar him from travelling out of the country.
A magistrate’s court here granted the judicial remand in a case related to the killing of Abdul Rashid,a top cleric of the radical Lal Masjid,during a 2007 military operation.
The same magistrate had earlier turned down the police’s request seeking physical remand,saying this could be done only if Musharraf was present in court. Senior police officials told the magistrate that bringing Musharraf to court would involve grave security risks.
After listening to their explanation,the magistrate remanded 70-year-old Musharraf to judicial custody and directed that he should be held in his farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad,already declared a sub-jail.
In a separate development,the Islamabad High Court dismissed a petition from Haroon Rashid Ghazi,the son of Abdul Rashid,to include Musharraf in the Exit Control List in order to bar him from travelling abroad.
Ghazi’s counsel claimed Musharraf was set to leave Pakistan as he had been granted bail in three key cases related to the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti in 2006,the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the imposition of emergency in 2007.
However,Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan rejected the petition,saying Musharraf was already in custody and it was the Interior Ministry’s responsibility to add names to the Exit Control List.
There was speculation that Musharraf could leave Pakistan after he was granted bail in the Akbar Bugti murder case this week. However,he was arrested again on Thursday on the charge of involvement in the killing of the Lal Masjid cleric.
Musharraf,who was then army chief and President,had ordered the crackdown on extremists holed up in the Lal Masjid in 2007. About 100 people,most of them extremists,were killed in the operation.
On the orders of the Islamabad High Court,a case was registered against Musharraf on September 2,charging him with the murder of Abdul Rashid and his mother. The case was filed after the cleric’s son submitted an application to police and referred to the Lal Masjid Commission’s report,which held the former President responsible for the operation.
Musharraf has been held for nearly six months at his farmhouse,guarded by nearly 300 security personnel,including soldiers and snipers.
He took power in a 1999 coup and ruled as President until he resigned when he was threatened with impeachment in 2008. He then went into self-imposed exile and returned to Pakistan in March in a bid to resurrect his political career.
Police arrested Musharraf late Thursday over the military raid on Lal Masjid,a day after the Supreme Court granted him bail on Wednesday in the Akbar Bugti murder case. Friday’s ruling on his remand means he will remain under house arrest for at least two more weeks until the magistrate’s court takes up his case again on October 25.