Thursday, 18 April 2013

Pakistan leader Musharraf flees court after calls for his arrest

Pakistan leader Musharraf flees court after calls for his arrest, Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf bolted from court after hearing of orders for his arrest on Thursday. Musharraf is a retired general and was a Western ally during his term as President. He took power in a coup in 1999, but was ousted and charged with treason and conspiracy to commit murder in 2008. He fled to the UK and stayed in exile for 4 years. He returned to Pakistan in late March and was granted protective bail. The court denied a bail extension on Thursday. Musharraf left in a black SUV, pursued by lawyers who made a weak attempt to catch him. According to an April 18 NBC News article, Musharraf's substantial security detail escorted him to his home on the outskirts of Islamabad. He is said to be safe at home now.

Musharraf ended his exile to clear up several criminal charges against him. He also indicated a desire to participate in Pakistan's historic elections, but he is in a mess of legal troubles and the court is not a friendly one. He stands no chance of returning to office as his political charisma is gone.

The former president's troubles date back to 2007 when the Pakistani Supreme Court charged him with treason for declaring emergency rule, firing judges and taking power. He was also a U.S. ally who helped to fight Islamist militancy. He faces death threats from the Taliban as a result of that alliance.

Iftikhar Chaudhry is one of the judges Musharraf fired in 2007. Chaudhry was reinstated and is now Pakistan's chief justice. He is after Musharraf for failing to protect prime minister Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in late 2007. He is also accused of conspiracy to murder a separatist leader in Baluchistan.

Musharraf denies any wrongdoing, but as an April 18 UK Guardian article sums it up, "Musharraf may yet be able to return to life abroad – never has an army chief been tried or sent to prison before in a country where the military still wields enormous influence – but his political obituary has long been written."

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