Pervez Musharraf (born 1943) is a Pakistani politician and a retired four-star general who became the 10th president of Pakistan after the successful military coup over an elected government in 1999. He was a key U.S. ally held the presidency from 2001 until 2008, when U.S. involvement in neighboring Afghanistan was at its peak. He resigned in 2008 to avoid impeachment, lived outside Pakistan for many years and was charged with treason. [Source: Wikipedia]

Military tension in the Kargil conflict with India in October 1999 was followed by a military coup in which Musharraf assumed executive powers. Musharraf became both president and chief of army staff, and he further consolidated his power through various legal measures. In 2001, Musharraf became President after the resignation of Rafiq Tarar. After the 2002 parliamentary elections, Musharraf transferred executive powers to newly elected Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was succeeded in the 2004 Prime-Ministerial election by Shaukat Aziz. [Source: Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation. ]

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, Musharraf’s government benefited from an infusion of economic and military aid, because Pakistan is seen as an important ally in the war on terrorism. However, Pakistan was widely suspected of complicity in a terrorist attack on India’s parliament in December 2001. In an April 2002 national referendum, Musharraf’s tenure as president was extended to 2007. In late 2004, Musharraf reneged on a previous commitment to relinquish his position as chief of army staff, much to the chagrin of many secular and religious political parties, who demanded that elections be held in early 2005. [Source: Library of Congress, February 2005 **]

Under Musharraf, Pakistan continued to face many of the same problems that have plagued the country since its inception: government instability, tense relations with India, ethnic tensions, political divisions among provinces, economic dependence on international aid, and weak prospects for democracy. However, Pakistan’s government continued to survive and society to endure in spite of such difficulties, occasionally exhibiting remarkable flexibility and resilience. Indeed, it is often difficult to tell if Pakistan is on the precipice of disintegration or on the verge of renewal.

Musharraf’s Character and Leadership

Musharraf styled himself as secular-minded military man who seemed motivated more by patriotism than ambition. When he took over the leadership of Pakistan he gave the impression that he was going to gradually cede power to others but instead firmed his grip on power. He was credited with successfully navigating his way through conflicting interests such as the United States and Muslim extremists.

Musharraf keeps dogs ( Pekinese), a custom frowned upon by Muslims. He likes playing bridge and sketching. He considers himself a Muslim but not a conservative one. He listens to Western music and drinks Johnny Walker from time to time. He speaks Urdu. English and Turkish.

Musharraf has be described as sincere, charming, hospitable and humorous. He initially received generally high ratings in opinion polls in part because he looked good compared to his predecessors Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. He was widely condemned by Muslim extremists though but they could do little politically to oust him and their attempts to assassinate him were unsuccessful.

Musharraf appeared in public in a variety of military uniforms, native costumes, polo shirts and Armani suits. When he,made a television addresses to announce his support of the United States in the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 he said “Trust me.” Musharraf admired the Turkish secularist leader Ataturk. Many predicted he would end up like Anwar Sadat, admired in the West and killed by extremists at home.

Musharraf’s Early Life and Family

Pervez Musharraf (pronounced pur-VEZ mu-SHAH-rahv) is a Muhajir (people or descendants of people who migrated to Pakistan from India after the Partition of India). He was born in New Delhi in August 1943. His family moved to Pakistan after partition in 1947 when he was three and settled in Karachi. They were on the last train to make it safely out of India. Muslims on trains that came afterwards were massacred. His father was a civil servant for the British and later a diplomat for Pakistan. His mother was a rarity in her time, an educated woman.

Musharraf migration from India to Pakistan made him a first generation Muhajir. The second of three sons, he spent seven years in Turkey, where his father served as a diplomat and he learned to speak fluent Turkish, He was educated at a Catholic high school in Karachi and a Christian college in Lahore. He was a fair student and an excellent athlete who was good at soccer, cricket, squash and body building. He is only person in his family who chose a military career.

“My love of dogs began in Turkey,” Musharraf writes. “We had a beautiful brown dog named Whiskey. I loved him. He was killed in a road accident but left with me a lifelong love of dogs.” Fouad Ajami wrote in New York Times: No zealous Muslim believer would write this way of dogs, for to the faithful dogs are unclean. And then there is the dog’s name, another transgression. It was of no small consequence to Musharraf that he had gone to Turkey as a boy of 6 in 1949, when his father was assigned to his country’s embassy in Ankara as superintendent of the accounts department. The Musharrafs were to spend seven years in Turkey, and it was there that the young Pervez picked up his passion for dogs, along with a measure of admiration for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Turkey was (and remains?) the most modern of Muslim nations. Ataturk had been a soldier, a modernizer from above and a savior of his country. He was to bequeath his inheritance — the creed of Kemalism — to army officers in Turkey, and in Islamic lands beyond. There is a measure of Kemalism — its style, its irreverence in the face of the nation’s culture — in Musharraf. Pakistan today is not the Turkey of Ataturk, it is a more lethal place, and Musharraf stops well short of Ataturk’s unyielding secularism. But in his swagger, his eagerness to pull Pakistan into the Western orbit of power, he is reminiscent of the legendary Turkish leader.” [Source: Fouad Ajami, New York Times, January 7, 2007]

Musharraf was wed to Sehba Farid in an arranged marriage. He has a son Bilal and a daughter Ayla. Both of Musharraf’s parents are U.S. citizens and his son and brother live in the United States. His son works as an actuary in Boston. His daughter is an architect married to a documentary filmmaker. Musharraf’s elder brother was a Rhodes scholar who works at the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. His younger brother is an anaesthesiologist in Chicago.

The Pakistan That Musharraf Grew Up In

Fouad Ajami wrote in New York Times: “Ever since its birth as a nation-state in 1947, Pakistan had lived in India’s shadow. The jihad had given its political-military elites a place in the world. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, a stern soldier who had seized power in 1977 — and who sent his flamboyant Western- educated predecessor, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, to the gallows — offered his country the incendiary mix of despotism and Islamization. But as in the best of Oriental tales of revenge and redemption, Zia perished in a mysterious air crash in 1988, and Bhutto’s daughter Benazir claimed her father’s fallen standard. The country would then know four national elections in nine years, and a decade of drift before Pervez Musharraf seized power with the familiar promise of rescue and order. By then the foreign powers had long drifted away. [Source: Fouad Ajami, New York Times, January 7, 2007]

“When Musharraf came to power in 1999, Pakistan was a virtual pariah in the world of nations, sanctioned for its adventurism in Kashmir, and for crossing the nuclear threshold in 1998 when it detonated six nuclear devices . The terror of 9/11 came to Musharraf’s — and Pakistan’s — rescue. It is Musharraf’s pride — a pride that runs through his book — that he positioned Pakistan skillfully in this new war on terror.

“In all fairness, the trajectory of Musharraf’s life is a fair reflection of his country’s. The relation of Pakistan to Islam had been complicated to begin with. The pious among the Muslims of the subcontinent had not created Pakistan. It was the assimilated, the rejected political men who had been firm believers in Indian nationalism, who took their people out of India and into a state for Muslims. The creation of Pakistan issued from a tale of hurt, and of great insecurity.

In the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Muslims of India had fallen behind the Hindu majority, who took an easier leap into the modern world. A despondency overtook Indian Islam. Thus it was that a barrister by the name of M. A. Jinnah, later Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1876-1948), a firm believer in British law and Indian nationalism, a man who married outside the faith and tried in the 1930s to get himself elected to the British Parliament while forgetting all about Hindus and Muslims, led his people to the promised land of Pakistan. Along the way the Saville Row suits would be traded for Punjabi attire, and the Anglicized name changed to his old Muslim name. By the time Jinnah settled in his new home in Karachi in 1947, he was an old man ravaged by tuberculosis and cancer of the lungs; he would die soon after the creation of what he dismissed as “moth-eaten ” Pakistan. Jinnah had always aspired to something grander: Bombay was his beloved city; he had merely settled for Pakistan. Musharraf recalls sitting on a wall along the road of Jinnah’s funeral cortege, a young boy weeping over the death of the great man.

“Musharraf’s family — like Jinnah himself — came to Karachi during the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, in the tidal migration that was the mother of all ethnic cleansings. His family belonged to the Muhajir class, the migrants who gave up their world in India for the new state, and its promise. But a surprise lay in wait for them. The land of the faith that they entered was not empty. Karachi lay in the province of Sindh, and to the Sindhis it was home. A sense of unease was to trail the Muhajirs as they jostled with the principal nationalities of Pakistan — the Punjabis, the Balochi, the Pashtuns and the Sindhis.”

Musharraf's Military Career

Musharraf is a career military man. He attended the Pakistan Military Academy in the early 1960s. He joined the Pakistan army in 1964 and graduated from Pakistani Command and Staff College at Quetta and studied at military institutions in Britain. He fought Indian troops in the Punjab during the 16-day war in 1965, served with a group of commandos in 1971 and was decorated for service in the 1975 war with India.

Musharraf was well liked by his fellow students and soldiers and the men who worked under him. He was known as a gregarious ladies man who liked to finish up work before 2:00pm so he could enjoy outdoor sports such as sailing and tennis, often among the men who were expected to salute him. He was something of a rebel, and was once disciplined for leading a mess hall revolt about the poor quality of tea.

Musharraf commanded an infantry brigade and artillery regiment and served in various commando battalions. He was appointed as the army chief in 1998 by Sharif, who fired the previous army chief who sought a greater role for the army and the technocrats in running the country. Musharraf is believed to have been one of the masterminds of the Kargil offensive. Sharif thought he would be loyal and pliable. That was not the case.

Sharif is Ousted in Military Coup

In October 1999, Sharif was arrested and ousted in a bloodless coup orchestrated by Army General Pervez Musharraf, who replaced him. Encountering little resistance, army units fanned out across the country and seized control of the airports, state television and communications. Later Sharif was arrested, the cabinet was sacked, Parliament and the constitution were suspended and martial was tacitly declared. The coup was all over in 48 hours and not a single shot was fired. It was the fourth coup since Pakistan became independent in 1947 and the first since 1988, when democracy was restored.

The coup was well planned and was described as one of the calmest coups in history. Few barricades were set up, shops remained open; and telephone and television service was quickly restored. The coup was so peaceful that spectators showed up outside Sharif's official residence to watch. Many left disappointed because they didn't see anything.

The coup was popular with many ordinary Pakistanis, who were tired with the direction that Pakistan had taken under Bhutto and Sharif and hoped the military could bring stability and improve the basket case economy. People danced and partied in the streets when they heard the news. One school principal told the New York Times, "I don't think there should be any more elections, There should be a strong dictator." General Musharraf named himself president of Pakistan in June 2001 while remaining head of the army.

Events Leading up to the Coup in 1999

The coup came after weeks of escalating tensions between the Sharif government and the Pakistani military. Pakistani military leaders considered the withdrawal from Kargil in June 1999 to be a humiliation and were appalled by how Sharif handled the whole thing. Sharif reportedly had a major roll in organizing the offensive but gave the orders to withdraw after being pressured to do so by Washington and then tried to distance himself from whole thing and blame the disaster on the military.

India and Pakistan had engaged in a limited conflict in the Kargil War, which Pakistan was widely seen as precipitating because of its suspected support of militants who entered Indian-held Kashmir from Pakistani-held Kashmir. The conflict proved to be embarrassing for the government, and, with the economy suffering tremendously, Musharraf overthrew Sharif. [Source: Library of Congress, February 2005]

Sharif and Musharraf mistrusted each other. Musharraf was angry that he was appointed for only a year rather than the customary three years. The coup came within hours after Sharif made the decision to fire Musharraf, then head of the Pakistani military, and replace him head of Pakistani intelligence. Musharraf had anticipated the move and set the coup in motion seizing Pakistan's television headquarters two hours after he was fired.

Drama on Plane

Distrustful of Musharraf, Nawaz Sharif dismissed Musharraf while he was in the air returning from a visit to Sri Lanka. However, when the general's plane was denied permission to land at Karachi Airport, army troops loyal to Musharraf seized the airport and arrested Sharif.

When he was fired, Musharraf was on PIA commercial plane flying from Columbo to Karachi. Sharif refused to let the plane land in Karachi even though it was slow on fuel. The plane was told to land in Oman and then India. The pilot said he didn't have enough fuel to make it to Oman and pleas by the pilot to land in Lahore or Islamabad were denied. The pilot was then told to land in the town of Nawabshah, where Sharif reportedly had planned to have Musharraf arrested.

The plane spent more than an hour in a holding pattern, Musharraf went into the cockpit and ordered the pilot to land in Karachi. With the help of the pilot Musharraf contained his generals after being patched through Dubai. The generals ordered a commando team to seize Karachi airport so the plane could land. When the plane landed it reportedly had only seven minutes worth of fuel left.

Musharraf landed as de facto leader of Pakistan. Troops loyal to Musharraf occupied the television station and the prime minister’s residence. Musharraf borrowed a uniform and made a brief speech on television in which he said the army had no choice but to do what it did and the situation was under control.

Sharif Arrested and Sentenced to Life in Prison

Nawaz Sharif was charged with treason, hijacking, kidnapping, and attempted murder in connection with a order he gave to not allow a plane carrying Musharraf, the coup leader, to land, endangering the lives of 200 people on the plane. In January 2000, Sharif went on trial for charges of hijacking/terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder. In March 2000, three gunmen burst into the office of Sharif's lawyer and shot and killed him. Before he was shot the lawyer claimed that his office had been illegally searched and documents were stolen. Many think that the killing had more to with the lawyers anti-terrorist persecution than the Sharif case.

In the trial the director-general of Pakistan's Civil Aviation authority receive a call from Sharif telling that plane carry the coup leader "should not be allowed to land anywhere in Pakistan." Testifying in his own defense, Sharif said he was framed.

In April 2000, Sharif was found not guilty of murder and kidnaping but was found guilty of hijacking and terrorism and sentenced to two life sentences in prison. The military had sought the death penalty in the case. He was charged with hijacking because he attempted to prevent a plane Musharraf was flying in from landing at any airport in Pakistan, when the plane was low on fuel. Sharif knew of Musharraf's coup intentions. In July, 2000 Nawaz Sharif was convicted of corruption and sentenced to an additional 14-years imprisonment while already serving a life sentence. His failure to declare assets and pay taxes led to the conviction.

In December 2000, a deal was brokered by the Saudi Arabian government in which Sharif was bared from taking part in politics or criticize the Pakistani government and forfeit all of his assets and property in return for being freed from jail, receiving a presidential pardon for criminal convictions and amnesty from pending charges and exiled in Saudi Arabia for 10 years. Sharif paid US$8.3 million and flew to Saudi Arabia with 40 relatives.

Musharraf as Leader of Pakistan

Musharraf described himself as "not a political or constitutional expert." He said he led the coup because "all the institutions" of civil society had "been played around with and systematically destroyed." He promised to end “sham democracy: and build “true democracy." Musharraf also promised to respect human rights and tolerate the freedoms of speech and the press and make Pakistan into a progressive Islamic welfare state.”

Musharraf lived at the Army House in Rawalpindi. The scenery and residences there are quite nice there. His mother livesd with him and often read him news stories from the day’s newspapers at breakfast. He played tennis and squash and for exercise jogged around the grounds of his home. The clothes he wore were carefully picked out. When meeting with foreign dignitaries he wore traditional clothing. When he made important speeches on television he wore a uniform. When he attended social occasions he often sported an Armani suit. He reportedly dyes his hair because his mother insisted that he do it.

Musharraf Secures His Power

After seizing power Musharraf promised to improve the quality of government but instead he subverted the rule of law. He undermined the independence of the judiciary and detained political opponents. Judges were required to make a pledge of loyalty and under the Provisional Constitution Order were not allowed to issue rulings against the regime.

According to “Countries of the World and Their Leaders”: Following the October 12 ouster of the government of Prime Minister Sharif, the military-led government stated its intention to restructure the political and electoral systems. On October 14, 1999, General Musharraf declared a state of emergency and issued the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), which suspended the federal and provincial Parliaments, held the Constitution in abeyance, and designated Musharraf as Chief Executive. Musharraf appointed an eight-member National Security Council to function as Pakistan's supreme governing body, with mixed military/civilian appointees; a civilian Cabinet; and a National Reconstruction Bureau to formulate structural reforms. On May 12, 2000, Pakistan's Supreme Court unanimously validated the October 1999 coup and granted Musharraf executive and legislative authority for three years from the coup date.” [Source: Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2009, Gale]

In January 2000, Musharraf sacked six Supreme Court judges, including the Chief Justice, for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the military government. The judges were required to take the oath shortly before a trial that would determine Sharif's fate. He also passed the “national Accountability Ordinance,” which gave his government the power to detain opponents for up to 90 days without charge. In an August 2000 shake-up Musharraf replaced high-ranking conservative Islamic generals with ones with more secular views.

In June 2001, Musharraf dismissed Pakistan's president Rafiq Tarar and appointed himself as president while remaining head of the army. Tarar was forced out of office when the parliament that elected him was dissolved. Later Musharraf told reporters he was "embarrassed" that he needed to acquire more power to pursue "the nation's interests." He replaced the the pro-Taliban head of the the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, with a general who was loyal to home.

Musharraf Strengthens His Power

Musharraf held a referendum in April 2002 to extend the term of his office for another five years. Ninety-eight percent of those who participated voted yes but only 25 percent of the electorate showed up to vote. The opposition jad called for a boycott and there were reports of ballot stuffing and other voting irregularities such people voting 15 times under the relaxed rules, Pakistan’s top court upheld the referendum which allowed him to stay in office until 2007.

In August 2002, Musharraf consolidated his power still further, giving himself the right to dismiss the elected parliament, appoint governors, dissolve provincial assemblies in consultation with them, and to appoint the joint chiefs of staff and the three service chiefs in consultation with the prime minister. In the summer of 2002, Musharraf unilaterally passed 20 constitutional amendments and issues a series of decrees that strengthened his hold on power. He gave the armed forces a permanent role in the government through the creation of a National Security Council, headed by president and the top generals and elected officials. Disputes over these issues paralyzed the parliament.

Pakistan's first general election since Musharraf seized power in 1999 was held in October 2002. It resulted in a hung parliament. In November 2002, Mir Zafarullah Jamali becomes the first civilian prime minister since 1999. He was a member of a Musharraf-supporting party. In November 2003, Pakistan's National Assembly met for the first time since 1999. In December 2003, made a deal with Muslim parties that gave him sweeping powers to dissolve parliament by decree and sack the prime minister by promising to step down as military commander in December 2004, a promise he reneged on. In accordance with the agreement Musharraf scaled back some of the power he gave himself in 2002. He said he had to consult with the prime minister before sacking him and get approval by the Supreme Court within 15 days. Musharraf insisted he did what he did “for the sake of the nation” and to strengthen democratic institutions. Many Pakistanis thought he thought a little too much of his abilities and merits, One common joke went: “What is the difference between God and Musharraf?” “God doesn’t think he’s Musharraf.”

Musharraf and Domestic Policy

Musharraf introduced modest economic reforms (mostly in the area of revenue collection), restricted the activities of Islamic extremists, and instituted policies to curb lawlessness and sectarian violence. He promised to restore law and order, develop grassroots democracy and depoliticize the state, give more power to local governments, restored the right of non-Muslims to vote (taken away in 1978). The fighting in Afghanistan, violence and political turmoil in Pakistan, and tension with India hurt the Pakistani economy, particularly the export textile and apparel industries.

One of the first things Musharraf did was freeze the assets of more than 500 politicians, including Sharif and his brother. Musharraf appointed many military men and technocrats to high positions in the government and pubic and private corporations. He appeared to have more faith in with their credentials than old school politicians who he accused of mismanagement and corruption. He also promised to crack down on special interest groups but in many cases he backed down.

Musharraf declared he would do something about corruption. He set up the National Accountability Bureau to search for corrupt business people, politicians and bureaucrats but was unwilling to extend the courtesy to the military. He sought the cooperation of the judiciary and military, that are both corrupt to varying degrees and balked at being investigated. Musharraf was praised for not being corrupt himself but was criticized for conducting business with people that were.

In October 2005 a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. The epicenter of the earthquake was near Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, and approximately 100 kilometers north-northeast of Islamabad. An estimated 75,000 people were killed and 2.5 million people were left homeless. The disaster was met with a huge international rescue and reconstruction effort. The earthquake cost Pakistan US$1.1 billion in resettlement costs for those affected alone. [Source: Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2009, Gale]

In June, 2007, there was devastating flooding in Balochistan after a cyclone struck the coast; some 2 million were affected by the floodwaters.

See Economic History

Economy Under Musharraf: 1999 to 2008

Pervez Musharraf, who took power in 1999 and led Pakistan until 2008, went after tax dodgers, cut energy subsidies, accelerated the privatization effort, trimmed the inefficient bureaucracy, and reduced the debt of nationalized banks. Rather that tax the wealthy to try to get back looted wealth, Musharraf chose instead to introduce strict Islamic banking laws.

Pakistan won praise form the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The IMF was impressed enough by Musharraf's efforts to allow the flow of IMF money to continue. Otherwise Pakistan's economic woes — chronic budget deficits, huge debts, low foreign reserves — continued.

In 2002, in the midst of rising tensions with India and fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan launched an aggressive privatization drive in which some of the biggest state-owned enterprises, including banks, and oil and gas companies, were offered for sale to domestic and international investors. At this time many foreigners were leaving Pakistan and the people expected to profit the most were the feudals (the rich elite and large land owners).

Musharraf’s Tax Reform Effort

Musharraf attempted to tackle Pakistan's economic woes by going after people who didn't pay their taxes, which is practically everyone one in Pakistan, people who defaulted on loans. Front page ads were placed in newspaper that read: "ATTENTION ALL LOAN DEFAULTERS! Last Chance — Pay Up of Face the Consequences." The ad was aimed at cronies of the Sharif government that were given large loans and hadn't paid them back.

Musharraf went after large landowner who are notorious for not paying taxes and extended the sales tax to cover retail shop keepers. He had hoped to collect an additional $12 billion in taxes annually.

Musharraf wanted to levy a general sales tax of 15 percent and install the mechanism to collect: tax survey forms. Newspaper headlines read: "WARNING!! All taxpayers are warned that a comprehensive tax survey is being launched in which your concealed income and assets will be unearthed." [Source: Barry Bearak, New York Times, May 30, 2000]

The Musharraf government launched a tax amnesty plan in which deadbeats were given an opportunity to pay taxes on earnings before June 30, 1999 at rate of only 10 percent. Those that didn't take advantage of the offer were threatened with having to pay a 30 percent rate and face a prison sentence of up to 5 years. The amnesty program was largely a failure, collecting the equivalent of only a few million dollars.

Musharraf government tried to tax cross-border smuggling. Around 1,000 of the "most corrupt" bureaucrats in the revenue office were fired. Tax revenues increased by 40 percent between 1999 and 2003 in part because before that time the tax collection rates were so dismally low.

In June 2000, teams of soldiers and revenue offices fanned out across Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and other cities, delivering tax survey forms to businesses and homes. The surveys asked for inventories of purchases, rents, utility and employees. The punishment for ignoring the survey was three months in jail. Shopowners closed their stores when the tax survey teams appeared in their neighborhood. In Islamabad, shopowners even carried out a strike to protest the survey.

Shopowners claimed that the government’s should crackdown on corruption and bribe taking in the tax offices and bureaucracy. They also complain that little of the tax money ends up paying for public services such as health and education.

Musharraf and Muslim Extremism

Musharraf aimed to curb Islamic extremism but in many cases he backed down. He caved on to Islamists who were against reforming Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. He did many things that Muslim extremists objected to such as shaking hands with women in public and being photographed with dogs.

Musharraf walked a tightrope on terrorism. He cracked down hard enough on Muslim extremist groups to make the Americans happy but didn’t shut them down completely so he wouldn’t alienate the local population and would have a source of fighters for Kashmir.

Musharraf was initially regarded as weak when it came to the Muslim extremists. He caved into radical demands and backed off from plans to reform Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws and clamp down on honor killing of women. September 11th gave him an excuse to crack down hard on them, which he did while extremists burned his effigy in the streets. “There is no reason why ths minority should hold the majority hostage,” he said.

According to the Columbia Encyclopedia:“In March 2004, Pakistan's military began operations against foreign Islamic militants in South Waziristan, but local militants who regarded the attacks as a breach of local autonomy joined in fighting against government forces. The fighting continued into 2005, when operations were also begun in North Waziristan. Agreements with tribal leaders in both regions ended military operations in Waziristan in late 2006. Fighting also occurred in Balochistan, where local tribes demanding a greater share in the provinces mineral wealth and an end of the stationing of military forces there mounted a series of attacks that continued into 2006...Passage in July, 2005 by the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) government of a law calling for Islamic moral policing was challenged by the national government, and the supreme court declared the legislation unconstitutional.” [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

In July, 2007, Pakistani security forces stormed an Islamabad mosque that had become a focus for Islamic militants; more than 70 persons died. Militants responded with a series of bombings and other attacks in the following weeks, and fighting again broke out in Waziristan. In September, bin Laden called for jihad against the Musharraf government, and the following month the government sent troops against militants in the Swat valley in the North-West Frontier Province (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). Despite the government's actions in Swat, the Pakistani Pashtun militants, who became loosely allied as the Taliban Movement of Pakistan in late 2007, became more powerful beginning in 2008. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

See Media, Military

Elections Under Musharraf

Musharraf promised to restore civilian rule in 2002 with new elections. Legislative elections in October 2002 were largely regarded as rigged, with Musharraf supporters taking the most number of seats. Musharraf was criticized for barring key opponents and engineering the rules so that he eliminated 40 percent of his opponents and made it impossible for 90 percent of the large illiterate public to run (candidates were required to be college graduates) and banned other from holding public rallies.

Qaid-e-Azam (PML/Q), a wing of the Pakistan Muslim League faction friendly to Musharraf, won the most seats (78). Bhutto’s party took the second most number of seats (62), Bhutto and Sharif were not allowed to run because of the criminal investigations kept then out of the country. The main Islamic party, the MMA, was third (45 seats). It did well partly because it could field a relatively large number of candidates because its candidates hold degrees in religious studies and they were allowed to hold public rallies.

Observers from the European Union called the election “seriously flawed.” They accused the Musharraf government of giving preferential treatment and money to pro-government candidates, misusing state news broadcasts and limiting campaign time of opponents. There were also reports of voters being turned away on election day.

Nuclear Weapons, Missiles and Foreign Policy Under Musharraf

In May 2002, Pakistan test fired three medium-range surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Musharraf insists his country would not be the one to initiate war. In August 2005, Pakistan tested its first nuclear-capable cruise missile.

According to the Columbia Encyclopedia: “Following revelations in the news media concerning the transfer of Pakistani nuclear technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea, Abdul Qadeer Khan in Feb., 2004, admitted that he overseen such transfers from the late 1980s until 2000. The Pakistani government said that Khan, who had led its nuclear weapons program for a quarter century, had sold the technology for personal gain, but missiles parts were transferred at the same time from North Korea to Pakistan, leading international arms experts and others to believe that the government was at the very least aware of the transfers. Khan, revered by many Pakistanis as the "father of the Islamic bomb," was pardoned by President Musharraf. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

May 2004, Pakistan is readmitted to the Commonwealth. The fighting in Afghanistan, violence and political turmoil in Pakistan, and tension with India hurt the Pakistani economy, particularly the export textile and apparel industries. In 2006 relations with Afghanistan became increasingly strained as Afghan officials accused Pakistan of allowing the Taliban and Al Qaeda to use bordering areas of Pakistan, particularly Balochistan around Quetta, as safe havens and to send forces and weapons across border into Afghanistan. Pakistan shares a 2,430-kilometer e border, with few border controls, with Afghanistan.

Musharraf and the United States

After the attack on World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, U.S. President George Bush reached out to Musharraf, asking him to join him in his "war on terror" and help defeat the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. Bush promised Pakistan US$1 billion in aid. Musharraf pledged complete cooperation with the United States in the war on terror, which included locating and shutting down terrorist training camps within Pakistan's borders, cracking down on extremist groups and withdrawing support for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

According to the Columbia Encyclopedia: “Following the September terrorist attacks on the United States that were linked to Osama bin Laden, the United States ended its sanctions on Pakistan and sought its help in securing bin Laden from the Taliban government of Afghanistan, but Pakistan proved unable to influence the Taliban, who had received support from Pakistan since the mid-1990s. Pakistan permitted U.S. planes to cross its airspace and U.S. forces to be based there during the subsequent military action against Afghanistan. These moves provoked sometimes violent anti-U.S. demonstrations erupted in Pakistani cities, particularly in border areas where many Afghan refugees and Pashtuns live. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

Ties between Pakistan and the U.S. were greatly strengthened. Musharraf supported the U.S.-led bombing campaign in Afghanistan. After the Taliban were removed from power in Afghanistan in late 2001, the United States moved to strengthen counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan. The United States wanted to prevent al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters from regrouping in Pakistan. [Source: Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, Thomson Gale. 2007]

Pakistan's ties to the United States and proximity to Afghanistan at least played a part in a number of terrorism attacks in the 2000s and 2010s as well as violent acts against Westerners, Christians and Shiite Muslims. In January 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi and brutally murdered. Attacks on a church in Islamabad, a bus in Karachi, the U.S. consulate in Karachi, a Christian school north of Islamabad, and a Christian charity in Karachi, killed many people.

Musharraf, Pakistan and the West

Fouad Ajami wrote in New York Times: “Grant Pakistan’s ruler, Pervez Musharraf, his due: he may be a professional soldier, a commando at that, but his feel for the world of celebrity is unerring. Musharraf turned out to be a booker’s dream as he hawked his memoirs on American talk shows. He knew his audience — “In the Line of Fire” is a book written for American readers, a tale of how the Bush administration recruited him into the new war after 9/11. “You are either with us or against us,” a fellow soldier, Secretary of State Colin Powell, told him. But the book’s best break — the author’s luck — was provided by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. The choice was clear, Armitage told the director general of Pakistan’s intelligence — America or the terrorists. And if Pakistan chose the terrorists, it should be “prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age.” [Source: Fouad Ajami, New York Times, January 7, 2007]

“Musharraf lives with a nightmare: that the attention that came Pakistan’s way after 9/11 would dissipate, and his country would return to what it was before those attacks: a forgotten, abandoned land. It is essential for Musharraf that Pakistan be a “dangerous” place: he and his country (more precisely, the intelligence services and the army commanders arrayed around him) feed off the menace. He might even give a nod to Bernard-Henri Lévy’s assertion that Pakistan is the “most delinquent of delinquent nations.”

“Musharraf knows the fickle ways of Western nations. There had been that earlier run, in the 1980s, when the global jihad against the Soviet conquest of Afghanistan turned Pakistan into a “frontline state.” American intelligence operatives and Saudi financiers swarmed in, and the place became awash with money and guns as the final battle of the cold war played out in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. It was a time of great tumult — and possibilities. There was Islamization for the warriors of the faith; for the officer corps and the intelligence services of Pakistan there was the chance to play the modern game of nations.”

Musharraf and India

One of the first things Musharraf did after he seized power in 1999 was announce that Pakistan would unilaterally remove troops form the Indian border, pursue peace talks and restrain from doing any nuclear test. In July 2001, Musharraf held first meeting with the Indian prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at Agra in India. The meeting proved unfruitful and ended on a bitter note. No progress was made because of differences over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

According to the Columbia Encyclopedia: “After terror attacks by Pakistani-based guerrillas on Indian government buildings in late 2001, India threatened to go to war with Pakistan unless all guerrilla attacks were ended. As Pakistan moved haltingly to suppress such groups the crisis escalated, but in Jan., 2002, Musharraf attacked religious extremism and its affect on Pakistani society, and stated that no group engaging in terrorism would be tolerated. A crackdown on such groups was complicated by strong popular Pakistani support for guerrillas fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, but many Pakistanis also objected to the Islamic fundamentalism espoused by many of the guerrillas and their supporters. In mid-2002 Pakistan's army established garrisons in a number of tribal areas for the first time since independence. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

In December 2001, the Indian Parliament was attacked by five suicide fighters, and India blamed the attack on two Pakistan-based Islamic organizations, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, which Pakistan, they said, supported by giving their leaders sanctuary. Tensions between the two countries greatly increased, and they began to amass hundreds of thousands of troops along their shared border. Pakistan banned Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, although it claimed India had not provided evidence of the groups' involvement in the attack. President Musharraf stated Pakistan did not want to engage in war, although the country would be prepared to respond with full force if attacked. The standoff between India and Pakistan continued for 10 months. Close to one million troops were stationed on the India-Pakistan border, the largest military build-up since the 1971 war. Most of the troops were withdrawn by October 2002, but tensions remained. [Source: Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, Thomson Gale. 2007]

In May 200s, tensions with India again reached the brink of war as a result of escalating attacks by Muslim militants in India. Concern that a conflict might evolve into nuclear warfare prompted international mediation, and the crisis eased after Pakistan stopped state-sponsored guerrilla infilitration across the line of control in Kashmir.

India and Pakistan declared a formal ceasefire in Kashmir in November 2003, and relations between the two countries slowly improved. In April 2005, Musharraf visited India, and the two nations agreed to increase cross-border transport links, including in Kashmir, and to work to improve trade between them. A bus link between the India-and Pakistan-controlled portions of Kashmir was established in April 2005, and both countries cooperated with the distribution of humanitarian aid following a deadly earthquake in the region in October 2005.

After a series of bomb attacks in Mumbai, India in July, 2006 , that India asserted were linked to Pakistani security forces, peace talks were suspended between the two nations, but they resumed in late 2006 and an agreement designed to prevent an accidental nuclear war between India and Pakistan was signed in February 2007.

In March 2003, a U.S.-led coalition launched a war in Iraq. The war has been viewed as setting a precedent for authorizing pre-emptive strikes on hostile states. The notion that India and Pakistan might adopt such a policy toward one another has caused international concern. In April 2003 spokesmen from both India and Pakistan asserted that the grounds on which the U.S.-led coalition attacked Iraq also existed in each other’s country.

Assassination Attempts on Musharraf

In April 2002, a bomb was put in a car on a road in Karachi that Musharraf traveled on. The bomb failed to detonate. Three Muslim militants were sentenced to 10 years in prison for planting the bomb. In July of the same year five heavily-armed men were arrested and accused on plotting to assassinate Musharraf. As protection Musharraf reportedly carried a derringer in his shirt pocket and left for his office in an armor-plated Mercedes, using two others as decoys.

On December 14, 2003, bombs exploded on bridge in Rawalpindi on the route to Musharraf’s home just moments after Musharraf’s motorcade had passed by. It is believed the attackers were trying to blow up the bridge and send Musharraf’s limousine plummeting below. A large 15 foot hole was made in the bridge. It is believed a jamming device on Musharraf’s car kept the bombs from being activated by remote control when his vehicle passed over the bomb.

On December 25, 2003, two powerful bombs were detonated near Musharraf’‘s limousine in Rawalpindi, not far from the bombing 11 days before. The bombs were in vans driven by suicide bombers who attempted to ram their vehicles into Musharraf’s limousine. They didn’t succeed but they got close. Musharraf was unhurt although his car was damaged. Sixteen people, including the suicide bombers were killed and 45 were injured. Among the dead was a policeman who was run over as he tried to stop one of the vehicles. The vans carried about 75 pounds of explosives each and waited at and emerged at a gas station of the President’s motorcade to show up.

Musharraf moved to Islamabad so he would no longer have to commute such a long way to his office. If Musharraf had been assassinated the pro-Western No. 2 general would have taken power and elections would have been required in three months.

The attempts on Musharraf’s life were believed to have been organized by Harkat-ul-Mujahideen al-Almai and Jaish-e-Mohammed, militant Muslim groups that has been linked to al-Qaida and were once allies of the Pakistani security services. The sophistication of the attacks led some to believe that al-Qaida had a direct role in the attacks. In September 2003, al-Qaida deputy leader Ayman al Zawahri urged Pakistanis to overthrow Musharraf for his support of the United States.

In September 2004, six members of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen al-Almai were arrested in connection with the assassination attempt. In December, a Pakistani military court convicted two low-ranking army officers for their involvement in the first assassination attempt of Musharraf. One was given the death penalty. The other was sentenced to 10 years in prison. An air force technician, indoctrinated by Muslim extremists, attached large quantities of explosives to the pillars of the concrete bridge near the general’s house. Other members of the military were implicated in a plot to assassinate Musharraf in June 2002. The men reportedly worked under Abu Faraj Farj, a key al-Qaida leader in Pakistan. He is a Libyan. The government offered a reward of US$340,000 for information leading to his arrest.

Musharraf Picks a Prime Minister But Hold His Grip on Power

In August 2004, Shaukat Aziz, a former Citibank executive and self-made millionaire with no political experience, became Prime Minister. He was Musharraf’s choice and was chosen for his moderate, pro-West stance. He had previously been finance minister but did not hold a seat in the parliament. A carefully-engineered election was held to make sure he won a seat. In July 2004, Aziz survived a suicide bomb attack in the Punjab that was close enough to him to kill his driver. Seven other people were killed and shrapnel was sprayed into a crowd and about three dozen people were wounded. The bomber had run through a crowd at the end of a political rally and blew himself up next the car which Aziz was sitting. The head of the bomber was found about three meters away. His body parts were splattered 30 meters in all directions. Aziz was unhurt. The driver was killed because he had not closed his door when the bomb went off. A day earlier the Pakistani government had arrested a high-level al-Qaida operative.

In December 2004, Musharraf announced that he would stay on as army chief, reneging on a promise that he would step down by the end of the year in return for constructional changes that would validate his rule and give him sweeping powers such dissolving parliament by decree and sacking the prime minister. Both Islamists and advocates of democracy were understandably upset by the move. Analysts viewed it as a setback for democracy.

Musharraf made a pledge to step down as head of the army in December 2003 primarily to appease Islamist opposition members and keep them off his back and get support for increased presidential powers. In the deal the Islamic parties agreed to go along with the plan to establish the National Security Council;. With their support Musharraf had the two thirds majority in parliament he needed to pass the legislation.

The parliament passed legislation in two months earlier that allowed him to serve as president and army chief. Musharraf said he needed to stay on to continue the war on terror and make peace with India. Islamists and mainstream opposition parties were outraged by the decision. The legislation was railroaded through the parliament by Musharraf-supporters. Debate on the issue was abruptly terminated by the speaker. Opposition members charged the podium, tore up copies of the legislation and called for the death penalty for Musharraf for overthrowing the constitution.

Musharraf Last Months

In March 2007, Musharraf suspends the chief justice, Iftakar Mohammed Chaudhry, for misuse of authority, triggering a wave of anger across the country and the first joint protests held by the parties of exiled former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. Chaudhry had conducted investigations into human rights abuses by Pakistan's security forces and was regarded as independent of the government. The chief justice challenged the move in the courts, Pakistani lawyers and judges denounced the move as unconstitutional, and opposition parties mounted demonstrations in support fo the chief justice, believing that the president was attempting to remove him as a prelude to extending his presidency beyond the end of 2007.

A planned rally in Karachi in support of the chief justice led to two days of violence in May in which those who died were largely opposition activists; the violence provoked additional opposition demonstrations and strikes. In July, the supreme court ruled that the chief justice's suspension was illegal and that he should be reinstated. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

In July, 2007. Pakistani security forces stormed an Islamabad mosque that had become a focus for Islamic militants; more than 70 persons died. Militants responded with a series of bombings and other attacks in the following weeks, and fighting again broke out in Waziristan. In September, bin Laden called for jihad against the Musharraf government, and the following month the government sent troops against militants in the Swat valley in the North-West Frontier Province (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). Despite the government's actions in Swat, the Pakistani Pashtun militants, who became loosely allied as the Taliban Movement of Pakistan in late 2007, became more powerful beginning in 2008. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

Elections and Lead Up to Musharraf’s Resignation

In October 2007, Musharraf signed a corruption amnesty, opening the way for Bhutto's and Sahrif’s return and a possible power-sharing agreement. Sharif had returned in September but was immediately deported, but after an October court ruling he was allowed to return in November. Following negotiations with the government, Bhutto returned in October. Within hours of her arrival back in the country, bombers attack a Bhutto rally in Karachi, killing more than 130 people.

Musharraf was reelected president the same month, but the official declaration of the result was postponed until after the supreme court ruled on whether he was permitted to run while remaining army chief. In November 2007, before the court could issue its ruling, Musharraf declared emergency rule, suspended the constitution, rounded up opposition leaders at gunpoint, and dismissed the members of the court who seemed likely to rule against him. The challenges against his reelection were then dismissed, and later in the month Musharraf resigned as army chief becoming a civilian president.

Many of the protests against Musharraf were led by lawyers. Associated Press reported: “Police fired tear gas and clubbed lawyers protesting against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s emergency rule. The U.S. and other nations called for elections to be held on schedule and said they were reviewing aid to Pakistan. In the largest protest in the eastern city of Lahore, lawyers dressed in black suits and ties chanted “Musharraf, go!” as they defied the government’s ban on rallies. Some fought back with stones and tree branches. The crackdown mainly targeted Musharraf’s most potent critics — the judiciary and lawyers, independent television stations and opposition activists. Opposition groups said 3,500 had been arrested, though the government reported half that total...The demonstrations so far have been limited largely to opposition activists, rights workers and lawyers angered by his attacks on the judiciary. There does not appear to be a groundswell of popular resistance and all the protests have been quickly and sometimes brutally stamped out.” [Source: Associated Press, November, 5, 2007]

In mid December 15 2007, Musharraf lifted the state of emergency and announced plans to go ahead with parliamentary elections scheduled for January 8. Twelve days later Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi possibly by Islamists, after a campaign rally. A UN report released in 2010 said that security had been inadequate and that the investigation into her murder had been bungled by the police and hindered by Pakistan's secret intelligence agencies. Several days of unrest followed her death, and the government postponed the January elections to February 2008. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

Musharraf Faces Impeachment and Resigns

Elections were held on February 18, 2008. The two main opposition parties gain a clear majority in the elections. Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), led by her husband Asif Ali Zardari, won the most seats. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party PML-N also did well by taking a tough line on Musharraf.

In August 2008, the two main parties struck a deal to impeach Musharraf. The Guardian reported: “ Coalition sources said the agreement to impeach came when Mr Sharif assured Mr Zardari that he could count on the support of some former members of the PML-N, who are currently members of a pro-Musharraf party. "There was a major breakthrough in the talks late last night. We have agreed to impeach the president," a senior member of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party said. An official from Ms Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, now led by her widower Mr Zardari, confirmed the decision. [Source: Saeed Shah, The Guardian, August 18, 2008]

“They said that a charge sheet on Mr Musharraf's position and performance as president would be drawn up and submitted to parliament to be signed by at least half of all MPs in the coming days. The speaker of the national assembly, or lower house of parliament, would then notify Musharraf and ask him to defend his position within seven to 15 days, they said. As president, Mr Musharraf theoretically has the option of dissolving parliament and holding new elections, or even declaring another state of emergency to deflect any impeachment attempt.

On August 18 2008, Musharraf announced his resignation. The Guardian reported: “Musharraf, today bowed to intense pressure and resigned ahead of impeachment proceedings due to start this week. Musharraf appeared live on national television just after 1pm local time (8am BST) in an address that lasted for over an hour. Towards the finish, as the former army commander put an end to almost nine years in power, his voice trembled and he appeared to have tears in his eyes. "If I was doing this just for myself, I might have chosen a different course," he said, wearing a western suit and tie but speaking in Urdu. "But I put Pakistan first, as always. "Whether I win or lose the impeachment, the dignity of the nation would be damaged, the office of the president harmed...When I took over, nine years ago, this country was on the verge of being declared a terrorist state, on the verge of becoming a failed state. The challenges of the last nine years have been greater than any in Pakistan's history, yet I have met those challenges." [Source: Saeed Shah, The Guardian, August 18, 2008]

“It is likely that Musharraf stepped down as a part of a western-mediated deal between the president and the coalition government, according to which all charges against him will be dropped in return for his resignation....Celebrations broke out across the country after Musharraf's announcement, with people dancing and handing out sweets. "Thank God he's resigned. The country will do much better now. It's a victory for the people," said Mohammad Ilyas, 30, in Karachi. Lawyers, who have spearheaded an anti-Musharraf campaign since he tried to sack the chief justice last year, stormed out of courts in the south-eastern city of Multan on hearing of his resignation, shouting: "Down with the American stooge." "It's just like I'm celebrating my wedding," said one lawyer, Malik Naveed.”

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (, Official Gateway to the Government of Pakistan (, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

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