Pakistan arrests former president again

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Pakistan’s former president, Pervez Musharraf, was rearrested on Thursday over a new legal case, said his lawyer and police.

The legal saga that has entangled Mr. Musharraf since he returned to Pakistan in March after nearly five years of self-imposed exile escalated when police came to his mansion on the outskirts of Islamabad, where he has kept under house arrest, and detained him again, over accusations related to the 2007 military operation against the Red Mosque in the capital.

Around 100 people died in the weeklong siege and subsequent raid on the Islamabad mosque, including several members of the security forces.

On Wednesday, Mr. Musharraf had been granted bail on the last of three other cases, with his lawyers saying he would be a “free man” after posting bail bonds, which took place on Thursday.

The fate of Mr. Musharraf, a former army chief who ruled Pakistan between 1999 and 2008, has caused concern within the armed forces, said retired officers and is a source of private tension between civilian and military authorities.

“They have arrested him. We will get him bail on this case, too,” said Ilyas Siddiqi, one of his lawyers, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Red Mosque, a large, well-known religious institution in Islamabad, was taken over by militants, who sought to declare it an independent area. The government, led by Mr. Musharraf, ordered the army’s commando unit to surround the mosque and it was stormed in July 2007, an event that sparked the current Islamist insurgency in the country and the formation of the Pakistani Taliban group.

The case was brought by relatives of one of the Red Mosque clerics who led the standoff and was killed in the operation. They petitioned the court on Thursday after hearing Mr. Musharraf would be freed.

“This was an army operation, carried out on the instructions of the government, like other army operation. The court cannot interfere. President Musharraf cannot be accused over it,” said the former president’s spokesman, Mohammad Amjad. “We are not scared by this. We are not worried. This is just mischief.”

Mr. Musharraf had already been granted bail over accusations related to the 2006 death of a tribal rebel leader, the 2007 death of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and his alleged 2007 arrest of much of the country’s senior judiciary. On Wednesday, Mr. Musharraf’s lawyers had suggested he planned to travel abroad shortly.

A possible treason case over his alleged suspension of the constitution in November 2007 remains a possibility. A spokesman for the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Party, Sadiq ul-Farooq, on Thursday said, “We are committed” to pursuing the treason case.

By Tasnim News Agency


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