General Pervez Musharraf dead: The former President of Pakistan dies in hospital at the age of 70 after a long illness

The former President of Pakistan has died at the age of 70.

General Pervez Musharraf died after a long illness years in self-imposed exile, Pakistani media reported today.

General Pervez Musharraf has died


General Pervez Musharraf has diedCredit: AP

He enjoyed strong support for many years, his main threat being al Qaeda and other Islamist militants who tried to kill him on at least three occasions.

But his dogged use of the military to suppress dissent, as well as his continued support of the United States in its fight against al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, eventually led to his downfall.

Musharraf was born in New Delhi in 1943 and was four years old when his parents joined the mass exodus of Muslims to the newly established state of Pakistan. His father served in the State Department, his mother was a teacher, and the family embraced a moderate, tolerant Islam.

He enlisted in the army at the age of 18 and led an elite commando unit before rising to become their chief. He took power by ousting then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had tried to sack him for greenlighting an operation to invade Indian-held areas of Kashmir and bring Pakistan and India to the brink of war bring.

In his early years in government, Musharraf earned international recognition for his reformist efforts, enforcing laws protecting women’s rights and allowing private news channels for the first time.

His fondness for cigars and imported whiskey, and his calls for Muslims to adopt a lifestyle of “enlightened moderation” increased his appeal in the West after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

He became one of Washington’s key allies after the attacks, allowed US forces to operate armed drones from secret bases on Pakistani soil that killed thousands, and ordered native troops into the country’s lawless tribal areas for the first time in Pakistan’s history along the Afghan border.

That helped legitimize his rule abroad, but also helped plunge Pakistan into a bloody war against local extremist militant groups.

In a 2006 memoir, he praised the rescue of Pakistan from American wrath, saying the country had been warned it must be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age if it did not ally with Washington.

Musharraf also successfully lobbied then-President George W. Bush to inject money into the Pakistani military. Still, the army’s loyalties were never clear-cut: its powerful intelligence agencies struck deals with the Taliban and al-Qaeda and bolstered an insurgency fighting US troops in Afghanistan.

In other areas of foreign policy, Musharraf sought to normalize relations between New Delhi and Islamabad.

At a regional summit in 2002, less than three years after the start of the military operation against India, Musharraf shocked the world when, after finishing a speech, he suddenly approached Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to shake hands and offer to discuss peace to speak.

Analysts say the Kashmir issue, which remains the main bone of contention between India and Pakistan, was on the brink of resolution during the Musharraf era. But the peace process derailed soon after his rule.

Under Musharraf, foreign investment flourished and Pakistan’s annual economic growth reached 7.5% – the highest level in almost three decades, according to the World Bank.

However, the later years of his presidency were overshadowed by his increasingly authoritarian rule. In 2006, Musharraf ordered a military action that killed a tribal chief from Balochistan province, laying the groundwork for an armed insurgency that rages to this day.

Over the next year, more than a hundred students calling for the introduction of Sharia law were killed after Musharraf avoided negotiations and ordered troops to storm a mosque in Islamabad. This led to the birth of a new militant group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has since killed tens of thousands through suicide bombings and brazen attacks.

Later in 2007, a suicide bombing that killed opposition leader Benazir Bhutto sparked waves of violence. His efforts to heavily arm the judiciary also prompted protests, and a beleaguered Musharraf postponed elections and declared a state of emergency.

2008 saw the country’s first democratic elections in eleven years. Musharraf’s party lost and, faced with impeachment by Parliament, resigned the presidency and fled to London.

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He returned to Pakistan in 2013 to run for a seat in parliament but was immediately disqualified. In 2016 he was allowed to travel to Dubai.

In 2019, a court sentenced him to death in absentia for imposing the 2007 state of emergency, but the sentence was later overturned. General Pervez Musharraf dead: The former President of Pakistan dies in hospital at the age of 70 after a long illness


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