Pak media cautions courts in pursuing cases against Musharraf

Pervez Musharraf'sISLAMABAD: Pervez Musharraf’s fall from grace had already been foretold but the judiciary will have to act with caution as it pursues cases against the former military strongman, the Pakistani media said today.

News of the Islamabad High Court’s order for Musharraf’s arrest and the former President’s dramatic flight from the court complex dominated the front pages of Pakistani dailies and TV news channels.

Pakistanis took to Twitter and Facebook to discuss Musharraf’s arrest this morning, with many saying he should now be held accountable for his actions during his years in power.

The Express Tribune headlined its report “A general retreat” while the headline in the influential Dawn newspaper was “Musharraf’s luck runs out”.

The Dawn advised the judiciary to proceed with caution while taking up cases against Musharraf.

Several cases have been filed against the former military ruler over the imposition of the 2007 emergency, the assassination of Pakistan Peoples Party chief Benazir Bhutto and the 2006 killing of Baloch leader Akbar Bugti in a military operation.

“With the history of the courts’ clash with the dictator still fresh in our memory, the former should be careful as the cases against the latter are heard. Not for a moment should anyone be able to accuse the courts of pursuing vengeance rather than justice,” the editorial said.

Other dailies were less restrained with their headlines the one in The Statesman read “Musharraf flees court with tail between his legs” while ‘Pakistan Today’ headlined its report “The runaway general”. Yesterday, Musharraf was rushed out of the Islamabad High Court by his security detail when Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui directed police to arrest him after revoking his pre-arrest bail in a case over the detention of more than 60 judges during the 2007 emergency.

After spending the whole of yesterday ensconced in his sprawling farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad, the 69-year-old former dictator was arrested this morning and remanded to custody for two days by a magistrate.

In an editorial titled ‘Moment foretold’, the Dawn said: “It was a moment foretold many times over but nevertheless came as a surprise. It is hard to believe that (Musharraf) had not foreseen this.”

The “lukewarm reception” on Musharraf’s return to Pakistan after nearly four years in self-exile, the rejection of his nomination papers for next month’s polls and the disdain with which the media and civil society reacted to his return even as political parties maintained a silence showed that the former President had “miscalculated once more”, the editorial said.

The Express Tribune, in its editorial “Hard times for Musharraf”, said: “We would assume former president Pervez Musharraf is regretting his decision to return to Pakistan…Times appear to be becoming harder still for the former dictator.”

The editorial added: “In our country, with its history of military rule, the arrest of a former army chief is no ordinary issue. Talk of intervention from foreign powers is also circulating in Islamabad where rumors fly at the speed of light…The repercussions from the latest chain of events will soon become clear.” -PTI

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