Pakistan: Musharraf taken into police custody
It is expected that the former Pakistan president will be produced in an anti-terrorism court on Saturday.
Islamabad: Hours after his arrest in a case related to the imposition of emergency rule in 2007, former President Pervez Musharraf was moved from his farmhouse to the police headquarters in Islamabad to fulfil the conditions of his transit remand. Musharraf, 69, was moved from the fortified farmhouse to the Police Lines or headquarters in Sector F-11 on Friday amidst tight security shortly after 2 pm.
Officials said the move was necessary as a judicial magistrate had sent Musharraf on "transit remand" following his arrest on Friday morning. Under the rules, transit remand is meant only for transferring an accused from one court to another, and a person on transit remand must be held in a police station till he is produced in court.
However, police took Musharraf back to his farmhouse after his appearance before the judicial magistrate due to security concerns. Police officials felt it would not be safe to take Musharraf to any police station in view of the threats to his life.
Though police had asked for Musharraf to be remanded to judicial custody, the magistrate said he did not have the jurisdiction to do this as the Islamabad High Court had directed that he should be charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act for detaining more than 60 judges during the 2007 emergency.
The magistrate sent Musharraf on transit remand for two days and directed police to approach an anti-terrorism court to seek judicial custody. The nearest anti-terrorism courts are in Rawalpindi and police were unable to approach them.
Officials then decided in the afternoon to move Musharraf to the police headquarters, a high-security complex that is better protected than police stations. It is expected that Musharraf will be produced in an anti-terrorism court on Saturday.
The Law Ministry issued a notification today for setting up an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad. Sources said after Musharraf is produced in the anti-terrorism court, a move can be initiated to declare his farmhouse a "sub-jail" so that he can be detained there.
Confusion has surrounded the steps taken by police and the caretaker administration since a judge of the Islamabad High Court revoked Musharraf's bail and ordered his arrest on Thursday. Despite the presence of a large police contingent, Musharraf and his security detailed managed to flee from the court complex.
Throughout the day on Thursday, police officials were reluctant to act on the court's order to arrest Musharraf, apparently because they did not want to annoy the powerful military by acting against a former army chief. Caretaker Interior Minister Malik Habib Khan informed the Senate or upper house of parliament this morning that Musharraf's residence had been declared a "sub-jail" though it subsequently emerged that no formal notification had been issued in this regard by the Islamabad Commissioner.
Other members of the caretaker government sought to distance themselves from the issue of Musharraf, saying the interim administration had the limited mandate of conducting free and fair polls. Musharraf's return to Pakistan after nearly four years in self-exile has also led to complications for the current army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who may have to decide whether to intervene to protect the former President from being humiliated.