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Musharraf vows to fight back after arrest on terrorism charges

Published: Updated:

Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf vowed on Friday to fight what he called politically motivated allegations against him, after he was arrested following a judge’s ruling he should be tried on terrorism charges.

Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said on Thursday that Musharraf’s attempt to sack senior judges while he was in power was an “act of terrorism,” thus he should be arrested.

Ahmed Raza Qasoori, Musharraf’s lawyer, told Al Arabiya, “The judge does not have the right to include a terrorism article in this case. What sort of terrorism they are talking about? Now after Musharraf’s arrest, we will appeal for Musharraf’s release on bail.”

Lawyers have also petitioned Pakistan’s top court to try him for treason for imposing emergency law, punishable by death or life in prison, although it will have to be the state that initiates any trial, according to AFP.

He also faces charges of conspiracy to murder opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in 2007 and over the death of a rebel leader during a 2006 military operation.

Musharraf’s arrest is a significant act in a country where senior army officers have long seemed untouchable. The army is still considered the most powerful institution in Pakistan, but it’s aura of impunity has declined in recent years, especially in the face of an activist judiciary, reported AP.

Retired army Major General Jamshed Ayaz Khan told Al Arabiya that the army is being neutral and seeks “to contain the situation.”

“But based on my expertise dealing with army generals and soldiers, the continued to arrest of Musharraf and his trial will increase frustration among army ranks. Officers then will press the Army chief to interfere and save Musharraf not for his personal character, but because he used to be army chief,” General Khan said.

There were conflicting reports on Friday about how Musharraf was arrested. Police said he was taken into custody overnight at his home and brought before a magistrate in Islamabad in the morning. But the secretary general of Musharraf’s party, Mohammed Amjad, claimed the former military ruler surrendered himself before the magistrate, AP said.

Musharraf seized control of Pakistan in a coup in 1999 when he was army chief and spent nearly a decade in power before being forced to step down in 2008.

He returned to Pakistan last month after four years in self-imposed exile to make a political comeback despite Taliban death threats and a raft of legal challenges. But he was disqualified from running in the May 11 parliamentary election earlier this week, and his fortunes have gone from bad to worse since then.