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Musharraf flees order for his arrest

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By The Washington Post
Thursday, April 18, 2013, 10:15 p.m.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pervez Musharraf, the onetime Pakistani president who said he was not afraid to face jail when he returned to his homeland last month, raced away from court with his security detail on Thursday when a judge ordered his arrest in a treason case against him.

Local broadcast footage captured scenes of Musharraf taking flight in a black SUV with a member of his detail perched on the bulletproof vehicle's side. The dramatic turn represented yet another blow for the former president, who went into self-exile in 2008, facing impeachment for increasingly autocratic efforts to remain in power.

The Islamabad High Court revoked Musharraf's bail in a case focused on Musharraf's suspension of the constitution and declaration of a state of emergency in November 2007, an ultimately futile effort to stanch rising opposition to his nine-year rule. He sacked judges, ordered political foes arrested and put the chief justice of the Supreme Court under house arrest.

In earlier rulings, the court said those actions amounted to treason and declared Musharraf an offender subject to arrest if he came back to Pakistan.

Musharraf, who returned on March 24 to begin what many analysts call a hopeless and ill-advised bid to become prime minister, has met a tepid and sometimes hostile reception from voters. And his campaign hopes were torpedoed earlier this week when a top court in northwestern Pakistan barred him from running for the only parliamentary seat he stood a chance of winning.

Earlier, elections official disqualified him from seats in three other districts where he sought to run in national elections.

After Musharraf's bail was canceled by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court on Thursday, the former general and his aides sped past uniformed police and paramilitary forces outside the court to his farmhouse in the Pakistani capital, where local TV stations reported roads were being blocked by police.

Later in the day, while Musharraf remained behind the gates of his fortified home, his attorneys shuttled between the supreme court and the Islamabad High Court to arrange bail. Aasia Ishaq, spokeswoman for his party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, said Musharraf would comply with any ruling.

The news footage showed the ex-ruler's SUV exiting the court unimpeded by the army-controlled paramilitary Rangers. But scenes of a military presence at Musharraf's home gave rise to speculation that he was essentially under house arrest.

Ahmed Raza Kasuri, Musharraf's lawyer, said that was untrue and rejected suggestions that the former strongman fled from court.

“There were hundreds of Rangers in Musharraf's security escort,” he said. “He went with them and came back with them. It was not an escape.”

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