Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf flees court after arrest ordered

Commandos shield the former president from police and take him home. The latest ruling comes after one that barred him from elections.

Pakistani police stand guard outside the villa of former President Pervez Musharraf on the edge of Islamabad.

An Islamabad court Thursday ordered the arrest of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on charges of illegally detaining dozens of judges while in power, but he slipped away when commandos assigned to protect the ex-leader shielded him from police outside the courthouse and whisked him away to his heavily guarded residence.

The ruling by Islamabad High Court Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui provided further evidence that the onetime autocrat miscalculated the extent of his public support when he returned to Pakistan last month after four years of self-imposed exile. This week, a judge in Peshawar barred him from running in parliamentary elections May 11, in effect ending his hope of resurfacing as a major player in Pakistani politics.

Now the 69-year-old former general faces a different challenge: staying out of jail. Lawyers outside the courthouse said the rangers deployed to provide Musharraf security had violated a court order by shielding him from arrest. The commandos would continue to be in violation of the law if they persist in preventing Islamabad police from taking him into custody, they said.


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