Skip to main content

In Pakistan, Musharraf placed under house arrest

By Jethro Mullen. Nic Robertson and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
April 18, 2013 -- Updated 2040 GMT (0440 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Musharraf recently returned to Pakistan from exile to try to run in upcoming elections
  • Islamabad High Court asks city police chief to explain why Musharraf wasn't arrested
  • Pervez Musharraf's office: The decision to deny a bail extension is "unwarranted judicial activism"

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been placed under house arrest, Pakistani media reported Thursday.

The Pakistan government said earlier Thursday it would obey an order by Islamabad's High Court to arrest Musharraf, Pakistan's interim Minister of Information Arif Nizami said.

The order is legally binding, said Nizami, who is acting as a spokesman for the government.

The government had to act within 24 hours of the high court decision or face contempt of court charges.

Local TV stations earlier showed police entering his villa compound, where Musharraf went after being quickly ushered from the court by his private security detail.

Musharraf comes clean on drone strikes
Pervez Musharraf flexes Twitter muscle
Behind Musharraf's return to Pakistan

The arrest order was made at the same time the court rejected Musharraf's request for a bail extension in a case he is facing over the detention of judges in 2007.

The ruling set the stage for his arrest and has further undermined his political ambitions.

Musharraf's office called the Islamabad court's decision "unwarranted judicial activism" that was "seemingly motivated by personal vendettas," and said it would appeal against it at the Supreme Court.

But Ibrahim Satti, one of Musharraf's attorneys, told local TV reporters that they had arrived at the court too late in the day and that the Supreme Court refused to accept the appeal.

Satti said Musharraf's legal team would seek to file the appeal Friday instead, local TV stations reported.

Since Musharraf's court appearance Thursday, his spokespeople have given contradictory statements about his legal status. Musharraf remains in his Islamabad home.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court issued a ruling calling the inspector general of Islamabad police to court Friday to explain why his officers did not arrest Musharraf in court Thursday as instructed.

The high court ruling asks the inspector what precise steps police took to arrest Musharraf.

The ruling also says that when Musharraf allegedly ordered the house arrest of senior judges in 2007, it was an "act of terrorism" to prevent the judges from doing their job.

Musharraf halted from running for parliament, lawyer says

Return from exile

Musharraf resigned as president of the South Asian nation five years ago and went into exile in London and Dubai. He returned to Pakistan under heavy security to contest three court cases against him and run in upcoming elections.

But so far, his return does not seem to be going according to plan.

This week, Pakistani election officials barred Musharraf from running for a seat in parliament, a decision his lawyer has said he will challenge in the Supreme Court.

That decision appears to have emboldened members of the judiciary, many of whom have bitter memories of their treatment by Musharraf during his time in power.

The rejection of bail Thursday came in a case in which Musharraf faces accusations that he illegally imposed house arrest on senior judges during a period of emergency rule he imposed six years ago.

It wasn't immediately clear how the high court's ruling would play out.

Pakistani authorities also have an inconsistent track record in enforcing court decisions against prominent figures. A January court order for the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in connection with a long-running corruption case has yet to be carried out.

No former Pakistani army chief has been arrested before, and former presidents have only ever been placed under house arrest, never sent to jail.

When asked last week about his fears of arrest, Musharraf brushed the question aside.

He had previously received bail extensions in the cases concerning him. And he was initially granted "protective" bail to ward off potential arrest when he returned to Pakistan. But the judiciary appears to have taken a more aggressive line than he may have expected, stepping up the pursuit of cases against him.

Musharraf: 'There is no case against me'

Accusations over Bhutto

Besides the case concerning the detention of the judges, Musharraf is also accused separately of not doing enough to protect the life of Benazir Bhutto, the first woman to be elected prime minister of Pakistan. A leading member of the opposition, she was assassinated on December 27, 2007, after leaving a campaign rally in Rawalpindi, just two weeks before the general election in which she hoped to be returned to office.

In another case, he is charged with ordering his troops to kill Nawab Akbar Bugti, a popular tribal leader in the volatile province of Balochistan, in 2006.

Musharraf was disqualified from contesting elections in Pakistan because of the state of emergency he declared in 2007. Even though he hasn't been tried for that action, the move was ruled an act of treason, making him ineligible to run for office. Musharraf maintains he should not be barred because he has not been convicted of any criminal acts.

Some Pakistanis are happy to see the return of the ex-military ruler, hoping his leadership could help restore order to a country riddled with political division and plagued by extremist violence.

But he also made many enemies in the final years of his presidency, notably among the judges he detained.

The Pakistani Taliban vowed to send a death squad to hunt down the former president if he returned to the country.

Musharraf has said he has been living under threats of death since September 11, 2001, when he supported the American war on terror and fought against the Taliban.

The former general became president after a bloodless coup in 1999.

Musharraf's popularity began declining in 2007 after he suspended the nation's Supreme Court chief justice for "misuse of authority." The move resulted in protests and accusations that he was attempting to influence the court's ruling on whether he could seek another five-year term.

Read more: Musharraf halted from running for parliament, lawyer says

Read more: Musharraf: 'There is no case against me'

CNN's Nic Robertson, and journalists Nasir Habib and Imran Javed, reported from Islamabad. CNN's Jethro Mullen reported and wrote from Hong Kong. CNN's Laura Smith-Spark wrote from London.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 0311 GMT (1111 HKT)
For the first time in 24 years, Germany has lifted the World Cup after beating Argentina 1-0 in extra time.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
Do you know your gurkentruppe from your bananenflanken? CNN helps.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 0351 GMT (1151 HKT)
Police moved in just one hour before Rui Chenggang was due to appear on air, leaving his anchor chair empty.
July 13, 2014 -- Updated 2340 GMT (0740 HKT)
A salvage team will attempt to float the ill-fated Costa Concordia again. CNN's Erin McLaughlin reports.
July 13, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Tichleman 1
A makeup artist, writer and model who loves monkeys and struggles with demons.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1029 GMT (1829 HKT)
Why are Iraqi politicians dragging their feet while ISIS militants fortify their foothold across the country?
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
An elephant, who was chained for 50 years, cries tears of joy after being freed in India. CNN's Sumnima Udas reports.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
People walk with their luggage at the Maiquetia international airport that serves Caracas on July 3, 2014. A survey by pollster Datanalisis revealed that 25% of the population surveyed (end of May) has at least one family member or friend who has emigrated from the country. AFP PHOTO/Leo RAMIREZ (Photo credit should read LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Plane passengers are used to paying additional fees, but one airport in Venezuela is now charging for the ultimate hidden extra -- air.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 0732 GMT (1532 HKT)
Beneath a dusty town in northeastern Pakistan, CNN explores a cold labyrinth of hidden tunnels that was once a safe haven for militants.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 0444 GMT (1244 HKT)
CNN's Ben Wedeman visits the Yazji family and finds out what it's like living life in the middle of conflict.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT