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Pervez Musharraf (1943- )
The tenth President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf is a retired four-star general of the Pakistan Army. He served as the thirteenth Chief of the Army Staff, as well as the tenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, and took over the administration of the country in a military coup in October 1999. Pervez Musharraf headed the administrative military government in Pakistan from October 1999 to August 2007.
Pervez Musharraf was born on 11th August 1943 in Delhi, India. He belonged to a middle-class family and several of his ancestors were government officials during the British rule over the sub-continent. His father, Syed Musharrafuddin, worked in the Foreign Office of the Indian government, while his mother went on to do a masters, a rarity for most Muslim women at the time, and became a school teacher. After the partition of the Indian sub-continent, the family migrated to Pakistan and settled in Karachi. Musharraf’s father was posted in Turkey in 1949 and the entire family moved to Ankara when his father became a member of the diplomatic deputation from Pakistan. Musharraf returned to Pakistan in 1957 and attended Saint Patrick’s School in Karachi. He graduated from the Forman Christian College Lahore and in 1961 entered the Pakistan Military Academy, at Kakul.
Musharraf participated in the 1965 war against India and was part of that elite group of the artillery regiment which launched an offensive on the Kasur-Khem Karan sector. It was in this war that he won the Imtiazi Sanad medal for gallantry. Musharraf became a lieutenant colonel in 1974, a colonel in 1978, and a staff officer during the 1980s. In 1990 he studied at the Royal College of Defense Studies in Britain for a year. Musharraf became a major general in 1991 and served as the Director-General of the Pakistan Army’s Directorate-General for the Military Operations (DGMO). In 1997 he was superseded by Lieutenant-General Ali Kuli Khan Khattak as Chief of General Staff (CGS), at which Musharraf was quite surprised and disappointed.’ He even contemplated retirement as a lieutenant general. However, he was favored by the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and personally promoted to Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
General Pervez Musharraf was the main strategist behind the Kargil plan, which was launched in March 1999. Pakistani and Kashmiri soldiers began infiltrating on the Indian side of the LOC. When India discovered this movement the conflict escalated to a full-scale war between May and June 1999. However as the international pressure intensified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif withdrew support to the insurgents in the Kargil conflict and the Pakistan Army had to evacuate the captured posts, retracing their steps back to Pakistan. The causalities in Pakistan were heavy and the government even refused to accept the dead bodies of many officers. This greatly antagonized the army and rumors of a possible coup began circulating.
In 1999 in a bloodless coup, the Pakistan army took over and replaced the Sharif government. The Prime Minister replaced Musharraf as Chief of Army Staff with Ziauddin Butt on 12th October 1999, while he was still on his way back to Pakistan from Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister ordered the plane carrying Musharraf into Pakistan not to land in Karachi, which caused quite a stir in the army. The army seized the control tower in Karachi Airport, allowing the plane to land and starting the coup. Two days later on 14th October 1999, Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan issuing a Provisional Constitution Order.
The army rule continued for three years when on 20th April 2002 he held a referendum and formally appointed himself as the President of Pakistan on 20th June 2002. He became a close ally with the US in the aftermath of 9/11 supporting the war on terror. The Bush government provided Pakistan with military and economic assistance. After the fall of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, they were able to launch an insurgency in Pakistan. ‘By 2005, the Taliban and al-Qaeda were in the midst of a major terrorist campaign against the Musharraf regime.’ During this time the pressure from the Bush administration to curb the insurgencies also increased on Musharraf, as the US began firing unnamed drones at Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan and carry out cross border incursions. The Pakistani people, opposed to the country’s involvement in the war on terror, retaliated gravely to this and domestic pressure on Musharraf increased.
As the country was gripped in the clutches of suicide bombing and Islamic extremist, anti-Musharraf elements on the particular institution, the Lal Masjid became the hub of activity. In their demand to the government to impose shariah, madrassah students and women began attacking DVD shops and causing disruptions in their activities. These people were part of the seminaries in the Lal Masjid, owned by two brothers who had continued to challenge the writing of the General during his tenure. In July 2007 the Government forces surrounded the Lal Masjid and the stand-off went on for a week. Eventually, the forces bombed the mosque to gain entry, killing many of the people inside. This was the last straw. Musharraf was forced to resign in 2008 as the power was transferred to Asif Ali Zardari.