Judge orders Musharraf held for 14 days before next hearing
Following former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf's return to Pakistan this week after four years of self-imposed exile and his subsequent arrest, on Saturday a judge effectively place Musharraf under house arrest for two weeks.
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Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month to make a political comeback and contest the May 11 election. But he was greeted with little popular support and was disqualified from running in the election. A judge on Thursday ordered his arrest.Skip to next paragraph
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That sparked a dramatic escape by Musharraf from court in a speeding vehicle after which he holed up in his heavily guarded house on the outskirts of Islamabad until he was taken into custody on Friday morning.
Musharraf seized control of Pakistan in a coup in 1999 when he was army chief and spent nearly a decade in power before being forced to step down in 2008. He returned despite Taliban death threats and a raft of legal challenges.
He also faces legal charges in connection with the 2007 assassination of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and the 2006 death of a Baluch nationalist leader.
But it has been the case of the judges that has sparked the most contention since Musharraf's return — a reflection of the deep animosity many in the legal sphere still have for the former strongman.
His arrest is a significant act in a country where senior army officers have long seemed untouchable. The army is still considered the most powerful institution in Pakistan, but its aura of impunity has declined in recent years, especially in the face of an activist judiciary.
When Musharraf entered the court Saturday, he was surrounded by a phalanx of police and paramilitary Rangers. Pakistani lawyers chanted: "Whoever is a friend ofMusharraf is a traitor," while supporters shouted: "Love live Musharraf!"
Musharraf has described the allegations as politically motivated.
"These allegations are politically motivated, and I will fight them in the trial court, where the truth will eventually prevail," Musharraf said in a message posted on his Facebook page after his arrest.
Musharraf had hoped to regain some of his power by winning seats in the May 11 election. That vote will mark a significant milestone for Pakistan which has seen its democratic evolution stalled by a history of military coups.
But militancy and violence will likely continue to be a problem for whoever ends up running the country.
On Saturday, a suspected suicide bomber targeted security forces outside the main gate of a hospital in Khar, the main town in the Bajur tribal region. Four people died in the blast, said political administration official Abdul Haseeb Khan.
The tribal regions border Afghanistan to the west and have been the scene of numerous attacks by militants opposed to the Pakistani government who want to impose their version of Islam on the rest of the country.
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