Pakistan on Edge
|Michael Johnson||April 18th 2013|
The Islamabad High Court denied bail and issued an arrest warrant for Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday. Even though Musharraf was in the courthouse police failed to arrest him, letting the former president, his security guards, and bullet proof SUV leave the area. With the former general also barred from leaving the country, Musharraf's court appearance comes as his lawyer tried to extend a six day bail to two weeks. However, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui rejected the request.
The former leader now appears to be held up at an upscale estate on the outskirts of Islamabad. Police surrounded the compound, but it remains unclear whether they plan to arrest him.
Musharraf, after gaining power in a 1999 military coup, faces a number of legal challenges related to his presidency. The first concerns the detention of over sixty judges when emergency rule was declared in 2007. The Pakistani Supreme Court also received five petitions alleging Musharraf's actions were treasonous and violated the constitution's sixth amendment, a more serious offense that could include the death penalty. Other prosecutors allege Musharraf's connection in the killing of Benazir Bhutto the same year and a tribal chieftain from Baluchistan in 2006.
An electoral tribunal ruled earlier in the week the former president would not be able to contest any of four separate seats he sought to run for. Politicians attempt to increase their chance of election by running for multiple seats, but Musharraf was disqualified under a statute banning candidates with "low moral standing, insufficient knowledge of Islam, and even for disrespecting an amorphous concept known as 'the ideology of Pakistan,'" according to The Guardian. Musharraf may appeal against the rulings to the supreme court, but the justices probably won't be inclined to hear his plea.
Musharraf, who returned from a four-year self imposed exile in late March, seeks to regain some political power. Facing judicial inquiries and Taliban death threats, he remains a polarizing figure. But with a election in May and the civilian government struggling amid a weak economy and security fears, Musharraf may see potential to stabilize his country and secure a positive political legacy.