Pervez Musharraf, Former Pakistan Army Ruler, Dies at 79

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who seized energy in a cold coup and later led a reluctant Pakistan into aiding the U.S. conflict in Afghanistan in opposition to the Taliban, has died, officers stated Sunday. He was 79.

Musharraf, a former particular forces commando, turned president by means of the final of a string of navy coups that roiled Pakistan since its founding amid the bloody 1947 partition of India. He dominated the nuclear-armed state after his 1999 coup by means of tensions with India, an atomic proliferation scandal and an Islamic extremist insurgency. He stepped down in 2008 whereas going through doable impeachment.

Later in life, Musharraf lived in self-imposed exile in Dubai to keep away from prison costs, regardless of making an attempt a political comeback in 2012. Nevertheless it wasn’t to be as his poor well being plagued his final years. He maintained a soldier’s fatalism after avoiding a violent loss of life that at all times appeared to be stalking him as Islamic militants twice focused him for assassination. “I’ve confronted loss of life and defied it a number of occasions previously as a result of future and destiny have at all times smiled on me,” Musharraf as soon as wrote. “I solely pray that I’ve greater than the proverbial 9 lives of a cat.”

Musharraf’s household introduced in June 2022 that he had been hospitalized for weeks in Dubai whereas affected by amyloidosis, an incurable situation that sees proteins construct up within the physique’s organs. They later stated he additionally wanted entry to the drug daratumumab, which is used to deal with a number of myeloma. That bone marrow most cancers may cause amyloidosis.

Shazia Siraj, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani Consulate in Dubai, confirmed his loss of life and stated diplomats had been offering assist to his household. The Pakistani navy additionally supplied its condolences as did Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the youthful brother of the prime minister Musharraf overthrew in 1999. “Might God give his household the braveness to bear this loss,” Sharif stated.

Learn extra: TIME’s 2007 Interview With Shahbaz Sharif on His Brother

Pakistan, a nation practically twice the scale of California alongside the Arabian Sea, is now house to 220 million folks. However it will be its border with Afghanistan that might quickly draw the U.S.′s consideration and dominate Musharraf’s life a bit below two years after he seized energy.

Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden launched the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults from Afghanistan, sheltered by the nation’s Taliban rulers. Musharraf knew what would come subsequent. “America was positive to react violently, like a wounded bear,” he wrote in his autobiography. “If the perpetrator turned out to be al-Qaida, then that wounded bear would come charging straight towards us.”

By Sept. 12, then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell instructed Musharraf that Pakistan would both be “with us or in opposition to us.” Musharraf stated one other American official threatened to bomb Pakistan ”again into the Stone Age” if it selected the latter. Musharraf selected the previous. A month later, he stood by then-President George W. Bush on the Waldorf Astoria in New York to declare Pakistan’s unwavering assist to struggle with america in opposition to “terrorism in all its varieties wherever it exists.”

Then U.S. President George W. Bush, right, shakes hands with then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf at a news conference at New York's Waldorf - Astoria Hotel, on Nov. 10, 2001. (Ed Bailey—AP Photo)

Then U.S. President George W. Bush, proper, shakes fingers with then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf at a information convention at New York’s Waldorf – Astoria Resort, on Nov. 10, 2001.

Ed Bailey—AP Photograph

Pakistan turned an important transit level for NATO provides headed to landlocked Afghanistan. That was the case regardless that Pakistan’s highly effective Inter-Providers Intelligence company had backed the Taliban after it swept into energy in Afghanistan in 1994. Previous to that, the CIA and others funneled cash and arms by means of the ISI to Islamic fighters battling the Nineteen Eighties Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

The U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan noticed Taliban fighters flee over the border again into Pakistan, together with bin Laden, whom the U.S. would kill in 2011 at a compound in Abbottabad. They regrouped and the offshoot Pakistani Taliban emerged, starting a yearslong insurgency within the mountainous border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The CIA started flying armed Predator drones from Pakistan with Musharraf’s blessing, utilizing an airstrip constructed by the founding president of the United Arab Emirates for falconing in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. This system helped beat again the militants however noticed over 400 strikes in Pakistan alone kill no less than 2,366 folks — together with 245 civilians, in response to the Washington-based New America Basis assume tank.

Learn extra: Experts Say Drones Pose a National Security Threat — and We Aren’t Ready

Although Pakistan below Musharraf launched these operations, the militants nonetheless thrived as billions of American {dollars} flowed into the nation. That led to suspicion that also plagues the U.S. relationship with Pakistan.

“After 9/11, then President Musharraf made a strategic shift to desert the Taliban and assist the U.S. within the conflict on terror, however neither facet believes the opposite has lived as much as expectations flowing from that call,” a 2009 U.S. cable from then-Ambassador Anne Patterson printed by WikiLeaks stated, describing what had develop into the diplomatic equal of a loveless marriage. “The connection is one in every of co-dependency we grudgingly admit — Pakistan is aware of the U.S. can not afford to stroll away; the U.S. is aware of Pakistan can not survive with out our assist.”

However it will be Musharraf’s life on the road. Militants tried to assassinate him twice in 2003 by concentrating on his convoy, first with a bomb planted on a bridge after which with automotive bombs. That second assault noticed Musharraf’s automobile lifted into the air by the blast earlier than touching the bottom once more. It raced to security on simply its rims, Musharraf pulling a Glock pistol in case he wanted to struggle his method out. It wasn’t till his spouse, Sehba, noticed the automotive lined in gore that the dimensions of the assault dawned on him. “She is at all times calm within the face of hazard,” he recounted. However then, “she was screaming uncontrollably, hysterically.”

Born Aug. 11, 1943, in New Delhi, India, Musharraf was the center son of a diplomat. His household joined tens of millions of different Muslims in fleeing westward when predominantly Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan cut up throughout independence from Britain in 1947. The partition noticed tons of of hundreds of individuals killed in riots and preventing.

Musharraf entered the Pakistani military at age 18 and made his profession there as Islamabad fought three wars in opposition to India. He’d launch his personal try at capturing territory within the disputed Himalayan area of Kashmir in 1999 simply earlier than seizing energy from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif had ordered Musharraf’s dismissal as the military chief flew house from a go to to Sri Lanka and denied his airplane touchdown rights in Pakistan, even because it ran low on gasoline. On the bottom, the military took management and after he landed Musharraf took cost.

But as ruler, Musharraf practically reached a cope with India on Kashmir, in response to U.S. diplomats on the time. He additionally labored towards a rapprochement with Pakistan’s longtime rival.

One other main scandal emerged below his rule when the world found that famed Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, lengthy related to the nation’s atomic bomb, had been promoting centrifuge designs and different secrets and techniques to nations together with Iran, Libya and North Korea, making tens of tens of millions of {dollars}. These designs helped Pyongyang to arm itself with a nuclear weapon, whereas centrifuges from Khan’s designs nonetheless spin in Iran amid the collapse of Tehran’s nuclear cope with world powers.

Musharraf stated he suspected Khan however it wasn’t till 2003 when then-CIA director George Tenet confirmed him detailed plans for a Pakistani centrifuge that the scientist had been promoting that he realized the severity of what occurred. Khan would confess on state tv in 2004 and Musharraf would pardon him, although he’d be confined to accommodate arrest after that. “For years, A.Q.’s lavish life-style and tales of his wealth, properties, corrupt practices and monetary magnanimity at state expense had been typically all too well-known in Islamabad’s social and authorities circles,” Musharraf later wrote. “Nevertheless, these had been largely ignored. … In hindsight that neglect was apparently a critical mistake.”

Musharraf’s home assist ultimately eroded. He held flawed elections in late 2002 — solely after altering the structure to provide himself sweeping powers to sack the prime minister and parliament. He then reneged on a promise to face down as military chief by the top of 2004.

Learn extra: Why TIME Chose Musharraf For 2006’s TIME 100 List

Militant anger towards Musharraf elevated in 2007 when he ordered a raid in opposition to the Crimson Mosque in downtown Islamabad. It had develop into a sanctuary for militants against Pakistan’s assist of the Afghan conflict. The weeklong operation killed over 100 folks.

The incident severely broken Musharraf’s popularity amongst on a regular basis residents and earned him the timeless hatred of militants who launched a collection of punishing assaults following the raid. Fearing the judiciary would block his continued rule, Musharraf fired the chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Courtroom. That triggered mass demonstrations. Below strain at house and overseas to revive civilian rule, Musharraf stepped down as military chief. Although he received one other five-year presidential time period, Musharraf confronted a serious disaster following former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in December 2007 at a marketing campaign rally as she sought to develop into prime minister for the third time.

The general public suspected Musharraf’s hand within the killing, which he denied. A later United Nations report acknowledged the Pakistani Taliban was a essential suspect in her slaying however warned that parts of Pakistan’s intelligence providers might have been concerned.

Musharraf resigned as president in August 2008 after ruling coalition officers threatened to have him impeached for imposing emergency rule and firing judges. “I hope the nation and the folks will forgive my errors,” Musharraf, struggling along with his feelings, stated in an hourlong televised tackle.

Afterward, he lived overseas in Dubai and London, making an attempt a political comeback in 2012. However Pakistan as a substitute arrested the previous common and put him below home arrest. He confronted treason allegations over the Supreme Courtroom debacle and different costs stemming from the Crimson Mosque raid and Bhutto’s assassination. The picture of Musharraf being handled as a prison suspect shocked Pakistan, the place navy generals lengthy have been thought-about above the regulation. Pakistan allowed him to depart the nation on bail to Dubai in 2016 for medical remedy and he remained there after going through a later-overturned loss of life sentence.

Nevertheless it prompt Pakistan could also be prepared to show a nook in its historical past of navy rule. “Musharraf’s resignation is a tragic but acquainted story of hubris, this time in a soldier who by no means turned politician,” wrote Patterson, the U.S. ambassador, on the time. “The excellent news is that the demonstrated power of establishments that introduced Musharraf down — the media, free elections and civil society — additionally present some hope for Pakistan’s future. It was these establishments that mockingly turned a lot stronger below his authorities.”


Related Press author Rebecca Santana contributed to this report. Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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