ISLAMABAD — Pakistani police took former president Pervez Musharraf into custody today to face allegations he overstepped his powers while in office, marking a dramatic break with a political culture in which military rulers have remained untouchable.
The one-time army chief had hoped to rekindle a degree of influence by standing at general elections in May, but has instead become ensnared in a showdown with judges who fought bruising battles with him while he was still in office.
“He’s been shifted to a police guest house for two days of remand,” Mohammad Amjad, Musharraf’s spokesman, told Reuters.
A magistrate had raised the stakes earlier today when he ordered Musharraf be placed under house arrest for two days before he is due to appear in court on allegations of illegally detaining judges during a crackdown on the judiciary in 2007.
Musharraf is accused of violating the constitution by placing judges under house arrest after he sacked the chief justice and imposed emergency rule.
Judges had signalled their intent to take a tough line with Musharraf today when they ordered his case be heard in an anti-terrorism court on the grounds that detaining judges could be considered an attack on the state.
Police later transferred Musharraf into custody at a guest house at their headquarters in Islamabad after a senior officer failed to issue paperwork necessary for him to remain under detention at his home, his spokesman, Amjad, said.
Pakistan television broadcast footage of Musharraf leaving his farmhouse residence at an exclusive estate on the edge of Islamabad in a black SUV escorted by police vehicles.
The spectacle of a man who once embodied the army’s control over Pakistan being forced to answer to judges was a potent symbol of the way power dynamics have shifted in Pakistan, which has been ruled by the military for more than half its history. (Reuters)