Former President Pervez Musharraf is on the run after a Pakistani court ordered the cancellation of his bail application and subsequent arrest.
The retired Pakistani army general fled the scene in a black
bullet-proof vehicle immediately following Justice Shaukat Aziz
Siddiqui’s announcement that his bail would be canceled.
The dramatic escape was captured live by local TV channels.
Justice Siddiqui also asked that terrorism be added to
Musharraf’s list of crimes. He was standing trial over his handling
of the judiciary in March 2007, during which some of its
members were suspended, subsequently inciting the wrath of
Pakistan's judges and lawyers.
On-duty police personnel failed to arrest him right away, despite the official order. Musharraf’s current whereabouts remain unknown. However, he has already been barred from leaving the country.
Should he return to his property, situated a short distance from Islamabad, he could still be arrested and detained there.
It is standard procedure to handcuff a suspect on court premises after an arrest warrent is issued in Pakistani courts. A large contingent of police and Rangers personnel had been stationed at the court’s premises, according to local news agency Dawn.com.
Less than a week ago, the former military ruler was granted a six-day interim bail during the court proceedings being conducted in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.
Musharraf’s lawyer had asked that the court extend the interim bail for two weeks, but the request was rejected by Siddiqui.
On Tuesday he was banned from standing as a candidate in the Pakistani elections, crushing his ambition to re-enter the country’s public life.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month to contest the election on 11 May, amid death threats from the Pakistani Taliban. A Pakistani lawyer was caught on camera lobbing a shoe at Musharraf prior to one of his courtroom appearances at the end of March.
The former President had been in self-imposed exile for nearly four years, and was aware that he faced the possibility of arrest when he made the decision to return.
He stands accused of being behind the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto in 2007, with efforts to try him for treason. He has labelled the allegations as politically-motivated.
Musharraf served as the 10th President of Pakistan from 2001 until 2008. He heads the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party.
His legal entourage had plans in place to appeal his election disqualification. However, chances that the Pakistani Supreme Court would overturn the ruling were considered small.