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Pakistani police said Thursday they had arrested former military ruler Pervez Musharraf over the 2007 raid of the Red Mosque in Islamabad, a day after a court granted him bail in a separate case.
"We have put General Musharraf under house arrest in a case involving a military operation on an Islamabad mosque," Muhammad Rizwan, a senior official of the Islamabad police told reporters.
"We will present him before a court on Friday," Rizwan said after visiting Musharraf's plush villa at the edge of Islamabad, which has been declared a sub-jail.
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to Musharraf over the death of a rebel leader, a move that would have seen him freed after nearly six months of house arrest once the release procedures were completed.
He had already been granted bail in two other major cases against him, including one relating to the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
"Police have officially arrested General Musharraf and put him under house arrest. We will file his bail application soon," Muhammad Amjad, secretary General of Musharraf's All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), told AFP.
Police had refused a request by leaders of the radical Red Mosque to name Musharraf as a suspect in the case of the military raid in 2007 which saw dozens killed, including one of the administrators.
But Islamabad's High Court, acting on a petition by the son of the administrator, issued instructions to city police to nominate him in the case, paving the way for Thursday's arrest.
Musharraf's party allies were planning his flight abroad after they managed to have his bail approved in the other three cases.
He had returned to Pakistan in March to run in the general election, vowing to "save" the country from economic collapse and militancy.
But he was barred from standing in the election, won convincingly by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – the man he ousted from power in 1999 – and was hit with a barrage of criminal cases dating back to his rule.
Taking the former chief of army staff into custody was an unprecedented move in a country ruled for more than half of its life by the military. It was seen by many as a challenge to the power of the armed forces.
Security remained tight at Musharraf's 12,000-square-foot house, declared the "sub-jail" under the auspices of the tough Adyala prison in Rawalpindi. He is guarded by some 300 police, paramilitaries and marksmen.
Reports have claimed he is enjoying a comfortable life in detention. He has even had the services of his personal cook because of his fears of being poisoned.
The Taliban has threatened to kill the 70-year-old former general, who as president allied Pakistan with Washington in the US "war on terror" in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Since Sharif won the election there have been repeated rumors that a deal would be reached to allow Musharraf to leave Pakistan before his trials were completed.
One theory was that Musharraf might be allowed to visit his sick elderly mother in Dubai on compassionate grounds.
"We hope he will get bail in this new case also very soon. He will leave his house only when he will go to fly abroad, otherwise he will stay there even after being released in all cases," Amjad said.
Analysts say that Musharraf wants his name cleared of all cases registered against him and to go abroad as a man free of all charges.