Musharraf, Pervez

Musharraf, Pervez
▪ 2001

      As he completed his first year as chief executive of the military government of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf continued in 2000 to take a hard line on a number of policies, including the country's efforts to develop nuclear weapons. He had a brief and inconclusive meeting on various issues, including terrorism, with U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton in Islamabad, Pak., on March 25. On April 6 the government won a guilty verdict on charges of hijacking and terrorism against Mohammed Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister whom Musharraf had deposed. After having dismissed members of the Supreme Court who refused to sign an oath not to challenge the decisions of the military government, the general agreed to accept the court's decision on May 12 that civil rule was to be reestablished within three years. In September he spoke at the UN Millennium Summit on Pakistan's continuing dispute with India over the future of Jammu and Kashmir.

      Musharraf's father was a civil servant in British India, and the son was born in New Delhi on Aug. 11, 1943. The family fled to Karachi, Pak., in 1947 when Pakistan was separated from India. The father worked for the new Pakistani government, and the boy grew up in Karachi, getting a secondary education there and then attending college in Lahore. In 1964 he joined the army, beginning a 35-year career as a professional soldier. He fought in Pakistan's 1965 and 1971 wars with India and was awarded a medal for bravery in the 1965 conflict. He later graduated from the Army Command and Staff College in Quetta, and he attended Britain's Royal College of Defence Studies. Musharraf served in infantry, artillery, and commando units and rose through the ranks. He taught at the Army Command and Staff College and at Pakistan's National Defence College in Rawalpindi. In October 1998 Sharif appointed Musharraf to the post of chief of the army. The general supported the Pakistani invasion of Indian-held territory in Jammu and Kashmir in the summer of 1999 and, like other members of the military, was angered by Sharif's decision to accept a U.S.-sponsored accord for a withdrawal.

      Discord between the prime minister and the army grew, and on Oct. 12, 1999, Sharif dismissed Musharraf while the general was on a visit to Sri Lanka. Sharif tried to prevent Musharraf from returning to Pakistan by refusing permission for the plane carrying him to land at the Karachi airport. At this point the army took control of key government agencies and deposed Sharif, with Musharraf becoming the head of a military government. Although he promised an eventual return to civilian rule, his first steps included suspension of the constitution and the dissolution of the parliament. He established a National Security Council, with both military and civilian members, to run the country but in March 2000 said that elections for local councils would begin in December.

Robert Rauch

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▪ Pakistani general and leader
born Aug. 11, 1943, New Delhi, India

      Pakistani military officer who took power in a coup in 1999. He served as president of Pakistan from 2001 to 2008.

      Musharraf moved with his family from New Delhi to Karachi in 1947, when Pakistan was separated from India. The son of a career diplomat, he lived in Turkey during 1949–56. He joined the army in 1964, graduated from the Army Command and Staff College in Quetta, and attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. He held a number of appointments in the artillery, the infantry, and commando units and also taught at the Staff College in Quetta and in the War Wing of the National Defence College. He fought in Pakistan's 1965 and 1971 wars with India. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (Sharif, Nawaz) appointed him head of the armed forces in October 1998. Musharraf is believed to have played a key role in the invasion of the Indian-administered portion of the disputed Kashmir region in the summer of 1999. Under international pressure, Sharif later ordered the troops to pull back to Pakistani-controlled territory, a move that angered the military.

      On Oct. 12, 1999, while Musharraf was out of the country, Sharif dismissed him and tried to prevent the plane carrying Musharraf home from landing at the Karachi airport. The armed forces, however, took control of the airport and other government installations and deposed Sharif, paving the way for Musharraf to become head of a military government. Although he was generally considered to hold moderate views and promised an eventual return to civilian rule, Musharraf suspended the constitution and dissolved parliament. He formed the National Security Council, made up of civilian and military appointees, to run Pakistan in the interim. In early 2001 he assumed the presidency and later attempted to negotiate an agreement with India over the Kashmir region. Following the September 11 attacks in 2001 in the United States and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan later that year, the U.S. government cultivated close ties with Musharraf in an attempt to root out Islamic extremists in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.

      Over the next several years, Musharraf survived a number of assassination attempts. He reinstated the constitution in 2002, though it was heavily amended with the Legal Framework Order (LFO)—a provision of which extended his term as president for another five years. Parliamentary elections were held in October 2002, and in late 2003 the legislature ratified most provisions of the LFO.

      In 2007 Musharraf sought reelection to the presidency, but he faced opposition from Pakistan's Supreme Court, primarily over the issue of his continuing to serve simultaneously as both president and head of the military. The court thwarted his attempt to suspend the chief justice, and in October it delayed the results of Musharraf's reelection (by the parliament). In November Musharraf responded by declaring a state of emergency. Citing growing terrorist threats, he suspended the constitution for a second time, dismissed the chief justice and replaced other justices on the Supreme Court, arrested opposition political leaders, and imposed restrictions on the independent press and media. Later that month, the reconstituted Supreme Court dismissed the last legal challenges to his reelection, and he resigned his military post to become a civilian president. Musharraf ended the state of emergency in mid-December, though, before restoring the constitution, he instituted several amendments to it that protected the measures enacted during emergency rule.

      The poor performance of Musharraf's party in the February 2008 parliamentary elections was widely seen as a rejection of the president and his rule. The elections yielded an opposition coalition headed by Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari (Zardari, Asif Ali), the widower of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto (Bhutto, Benazir), who had been assassinated in December 2007. Citing grave constitutional violations, the governing coalition moved in early August 2008 to begin impeachment proceedings against Musharraf, and, faced with the impending charges, Musharraf announced his resignation on August 18.

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Universalium. 2010.

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