Musharraf's remand extended beyond 11 May election date

Pervez MusharrafPakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf's bid to re-enter politics through the democratic route is increasingly proving an embarrassment rather than a triumphant comeback, as a Rawalpindi court today extended his remand till beyond the 11 May elections.

In physical terms though, Gen Musharraf's 'remand' is hardly a slap on the wrist – he will continue to live at his comfortable Chak Shahzad farmhouse outside Islamabad, with virtually all domestic convenience.

His lawyers have said he is quite relaxed, and continues to enjoy his favourite brands of drink and cigar while watching TV.

Musharraf was earlier on four days' remand, but was not produced by the Federal Investigation Agency before the court today for security reasons.

The former Pakistan army chief who made himself President may be hated by the higher judiciary and the political fraternity, but he still appears to have considerable clout among important arms of the country's establishment.

FIA lawyer Chaudhry Zulfiqar told the media after the court hearing that their investigation into Musharraf's alleged involvement in the Benazir Bhutto assassination has been completed, and no extension of his physical remand was required.

Later, the court ordered him to be sent to jail on 14 days judicial remand, and adjourned the hearing till 14 May.

Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month, vowing to "save" the country from militancy and economic collapse, but he has already been barred from running by the courts.

Musharraf is accused of conspiracy to murder two-time prime minister Bhutto, whose Pakistan People's Party (PPP) came to power in February 2008 on a wave of sympathy over her death.

It is the second of three cases, dating back to his 1999-2008 rule, for which Musharraf has been arrested since returning to Pakistan after four years of self-imposed exile.