Born on August 11, 1943, in New Delhi, Pervez Musharraf was the son of a diplomat. His family moved to Karachi in 1947, joining millions of other Muslims in fleeing westward.
He joined the Pakistan Army in 1964 at age 18 and was a graduate of the Army Staff and Command College, Quetta. Musharraf assumed the post of Chief Executive after imposing martial law in the country in 1999.
Musharraf seized the presidential office in 2001, shoring his power up in a 2002 referendum questioned by opponents. But he reneged on promises to quit as army chief until late 2007. He served as the President of Pakistan from 2001 to 2008.
He aligned with the United States after the 9/11 attacks, earning international praise for trying to tackle Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. In more than seven years in office, Musharraf oversaw a stint of economic growth while dodging at least three assassination attempts.
Militant anger toward Musharraf increased in 2007 when he ordered a raid against the Red Mosque in downtown Islamabad. It had become a sanctuary for militants opposed to Pakistan’s support of the Afghan war. The weeklong operation killed over 100 people. The incident severely damaged Musharraf’s reputation among everyday citizens. Fearing the judiciary would block his continued rule, Musharraf fired the chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
Under pressure at home and abroad to restore civilian rule, Musharraf stepped down as Army chief. Though he won another five-year presidential term, Musharraf faced a major crisis following former PM Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in December 2007 at a campaign rally as she sought to become Prime Minister for the third time. In the picture, Musharraf (L) glares at supporters of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto who were shouting slogans "Bhutto is alive" as newly elected Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (R) looks on after taking oath at the presidential palace in Islamabad on March 25, 2008.
The public suspected Musharraf’s hand in the killing, which he denied. A United Nations report later acknowledged the Pakistani Taliban was a main suspect in her slaying but warned that elements of Pakistan’s intelligence services may have been involved. Musharraf resigned as president in August 2008 after ruling coalition officials threatened to have him impeached for imposing emergency rule and firing judges.
Musharraf’s plan to return to power in 2013 was dashed when he was disqualified from running in an election won by Nawaz Sharif — the man he deposed in 1999. He lived in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid criminal charges. Supporters of Musharraf hold his posters as they shout slogans during a rally outside his farmhouse in Islamabad on April 18, 2014.
In October 2010, Musharraf launched his own party, the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML). The party, however, failed to pick up steam, winning just one Parliamentary seat in the 2013 elections and none in 2018.
In 2016 a travel ban was lifted and Musharraf flew to Dubai to seek medical treatment. Three years later, he was sentenced to death in absentia for treason, related to his 2007 decision to impose emergency rule. However, a court later nullified the ruling. Musharraf’s family announced in June 2022 that he had been hospitalised for weeks while suffering from amyloidosis, an incurable condition that sees proteins build up in the body’s organs.
Less than three years after the Kargil conflict, Musharraf surprised many when he reached out to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for a handshake after addressing delegates at the 11th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit on January 5, 2002, in Kathmandu.
On April 17, 2005, Musharraf met former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Cricket Summit in New Delhi when the Pakistani Cricket Team visited to play a test and ODI series with India. It was on the sidelines of this summit when the two leaders reportedly reached some kind of a resolution on Kashmir. It is believed that among Pakistani leaders, Musharraf came the closest to reaching a solution with India on the Kashmir issue, despite playing a key role in triggering the Kargil conflict. His administration held backchannel talks with both Vajpayee's and Manmohan Singh’s Governments.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush meets Musharraf in the White House on December 4, 2004. Musharraf managed to lobby Mr. Bush, who often described the former as an ally and as a leader who was “strong in the war on terror”. The late leader convinced Mr. Bush to pour funds into Pakistan’s military, while it was publicly unambiguous that Pakistan’s intelligence was cutting deals with the likes of the Taliban and helping strengthen insurgency against U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Musharraf, 79, who ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008, was charged with high treason and given a death sentence in 2019 for suspending the Constitution. His death sentence was later suspended.
Musharraf seized power in a 1999 bloodless coup and was acting simultaneously as Pakistan’s army chief, chief executive, and president when the 9/11 attacks on the United States took place.
The general twice suspended the constitution and was accused of rigging a referendum shoring up his power, as well as rampant rights abuses including rounding up opponents.
He was said to be hospitalised due to a complication of his ailment amyloidosis, a rare disease that occurs when an abnormal protein builds up in organs and interferes with normal function.
He was diagnosed with the life-threatening disease in 2018 in the U.A.E. Musharraf left for Dubai in March 2016 for medical treatment. He was declared a fugitive in the assassination case of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the Red Mosque cleric killing case.
Musharraf ruled Pakistan for nearly nine years, starting when then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attempted to remove him as army chief.
Many Pakistanis handed out sweets to celebrate his 1999 coup, which ended a corrupt and economically disastrous administration.
But his easygoing persona failed to mask the blurring of the division between the state and army, and Musharraf fell out of favour after trying to sack the chief justice and failing to control an unravelling economy.
He famously said the constitution “is just a piece of paper to be thrown in the dustbin” — and implemented emergency rule when a bid to sack the country’s chief justice sparked months of protests.
After the December 2007 assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, the national mood soured even more and crushing losses suffered by his allies in the 2008 elections left him isolated.
He resigned that same year and was forced into exile.
Failed return bid
Musharraf’s plan to return to power in 2013 was dashed when he was disqualified from running in an election won by Nawaz Sharif — the man he deposed in 1999.
He was charged over the slaying of Bhutto and placed under house arrest as a series of cases against him were brought before the courts.
In 2013 Human Rights Watch urged the government of the day to hold him accountable for “widespread and serious human rights violations” during his rule.
In 2016 a travel ban was lifted and Musharraf flew to Dubai to seek medical treatment.
Three years later, he was sentenced to death in absentia for treason, related to his 2007 decision to impose emergency rule.
However, a court later nullified the ruling.
Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi prayed “for eternal rest of the departed soul and courage to the bereaved family to bear this loss”, his office said in a statement.