ISLAMABAD  - Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf is being held in ‘isolation’ at his luxury villa, confined to two rooms, stripped of his personal staff and barred from meeting his family and aides, his party spokesman alleged on Sunday.

Newly-formed Islamabad anti-terrorism court had remanded the former president dictator in two-week judicial custody on Saturday after his arrest over his sacking and detaining judges when he imposed emergency rule in November 2007.

The authorities declared the retired general’s plush farmhouse on the edge of Islamabad as a ‘sub-jail’, saving him the indignity and risk – his life has been threatened by Taliban militants – of going to prison.

After taking formal charge of the villa on Sunday, the officials of country’s notorious Adiala Jail barred representatives of both local and international media from entering the house. Some journalists, who tried to enter Musharraf’s home to get an idea how the former military ruler was living there, were not only stopped at the gate but also abused by the security officials.

Though all types of political activities have been banned at the residence, which was earlier a centre of political activities of Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League party, but insiders say the retired general is free to move in the house and has been allowed to retain his body guards. A cook and a team of loyal servants remain busy round the clock to provide him with every comfort, they added.

A team of retired and serving commandoes of Pakistan Army and a specially trained security team of law enforcement agencies stand alert inside the villa to repulse any attack on the former army chief, who faces threats to his life. Armed with AK-47 guns, around three to four dozen cops of Islamabad Police stand alert at the inside outside. The law enforcers have also sealed the roads leading to the villa by installing barricades.

However, Musharraf’s spokesperson Dr Amjad alleged that authorities have barred Musharraf’s staff, his legal team and even his family members from meeting him. “General Musharraf is being kept in isolation,” Amjad told reporters outside the heavily guarded residence.

“I was not allowed to have a meeting with him. His family members are not allowed to see him. He has been allocated two rooms in the farmhouse and his movements are confined in those rooms. His personal staff have been removed.” He said that only two officials of Adiala Jail had been deputed to take care of Musharraf’s needs. “The lawyers can’t meet him ahead of hearings in the Supreme Court, the anti-terrorism court and the High Court. All prisoners are allowed to meet their lawyers,” Amjad said. The next hearing in the Supreme Court treason petition comes on Monday and the lawyer complained that the restrictions were as severely hampering their preparations for the cases. He contended that even when former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani was imprisoned in Rawalpindi some years ago, he had more liberties and facilities.

But definitely the former dictator must be feeling much comfortable than his civilian rival Nawaz Sharif, who was humiliated and subjected to torture in Attock Fort soon after he was arrested and given life sentence following Musharraf’s military coup in October 1999. This is why many in Pakistan say, ‘once a general, always a VIP’. As for the villa, it was designed by Pakistan’s famous architect Hammad Husain in close consultations with the then first lady Sehba Musharraf. Built in two years (2006-2008), it reportedly cost the general $2 million. The Mediterranean style luxurious country residence has extensive grounds. The 5-acre farmhouse in Chak Shahzad suburb of the federal capital is almost 9 kilometres from the heart of Islamabad.

It has 15 feet high walls barbed with wires. The four bedroom residence has reportedly two bomb-proof rooms – said to be a work of a US based company. During a visit to this villa in mid 2008, this correspondent witnessed all the rooms, the garden and water-features, which serve to merge the inside and outside into a continuous green space.

Nonetheless, the arrest Musharraf on Friday in itself was an unprecedented move against a former army chief in Pakistan, which has seen three periods of military rule and where the armed forces still wield enormous power. The 69-year-old returned from four years of self-imposed exile last month promising to ‘save’ the country from economic ruin and militancy, but his homecoming has turned to bitter disappointment.

On Tuesday he was disqualified from running in the May 11 general election, which should mark the first democratic transition of power after a civilian government completes a full-term in office. He also faces a litany of serious criminal allegations. Lawyers have petitioned the apex court to try him for treason for imposing emergency law and he also faces charges of conspiracy to murder of former prime miniter Benazir Bhutto in 2007 and over the death of Akbar Bugti during a 2006 military operation.