Humiliation of Pervez Musharraf deepens as he is arrested and taken to court

Police arrested the former dictator overnight

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The Independent Online

The humiliation of Pakistan's former president Pervez Musharraf deepened today after he was arrested by police and taken into custody - a day after he fled from court in an apparent bid to avoid detention.

Police arrested the former dictator overnight at his "farmhouse" on the outskirts of Islamabad and took him to the court of a judicial magistrate.

After being allowed to return for a couple of hours to his residence, which his supporters believed was to be turned into a sub-jail, he was subsequently moved to the guesthouse of an Islamabad police station where he will stay for two nights.

The authorities ordered that the 69-year-old former military leader be held by the police before being brought before an anti-terrorism court.

"He's been shifted to a police guest house for two days of remand," Mohammad Amjad, Musharraf's spokesman, told Reuters.

For the blustering Mr Musharraf, there could have been few developments more humiliating. The former commando had returned to Pakistan last month vowing to "save" the country, only to find little support among the public and to run into a series of legal problems dating back to his time in office.

In a comment posted on social media following his arrest, Mr Musharraf claimed the charges against him were politically motivated. "I will fight them in the trial court, where the truth will eventually prevail," he said.

But beyond what it means Mr Musharraf personally, his arrest takes Pakistan into uncharted waters; never before has a former military chief been treated like this and there will be many who disapprove of what is happening.

"For the time being, I think the military will stay quiet and not come out in his defence,' said Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi a Pakistani political analyst. "But if the cases proceed against Musharraf and there are issues raised about the army then they might try and create pressure for the civilian system."

The case over which Mr Musharraf was arrested relates to his detaining  and sacking more than 60 judges, politicians and lawyers after he declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution in November 2007 - actions that his critics say amount to treason.

The former military leader had gone to the Islamabad High Court on Thursday in connection with these cases but the judges there refused to extend his bail and ordered his arrest. Before any action could be taken, Mr Musharraf was bustled out by his security guards and bundled into a black SUV which then sped off.

He was arrested overnight at his house in the upmarket village of Chak Shahzad and taken to the court early on Friday morning. His lawyers have been appealing without success to the supreme court to overturn the lower court ruling ordering his arrest.

Despite warnings from both friends and opponents that he had little political support in the country and faced major legal challenges, the former army commando convinced himself he could overcome the odds.

Today's development followed a series of set-backs for him. Earlier in the week, an election tribunal ruled that his attempt to contest the Chitral constituency seat was invalid. He was hoping to appeal to the supreme court but few expected he would succeed. It meant he had failed in his efforts to contest in all four constituencies in which he applied.

Mr Musharraf's spokesman said the former leader was to have been placed under house arrest at his home but that senior police officers had failed to comply with the required paperwork. As result, television footage showed Mr Musharraf leaving his home in a black SUV escorted by police vehicles and taken to the police station.