Pervez Musharraf, Pakistani military leader who joined the US after 9/11, dies at 79

Islamabad – General Pervez Musharraf, whose role as Pakistan’s military leader at the time of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States made him a household name, has died at the age of 79.

A spokeswoman for the Pakistani consulate in Dubai confirmed his death to The Associated Press. Although his cause of death was not immediately clear, he was hospitalized last year in Dubai with an incurable illness linked to bone marrow cancer. Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the Pakistan Army has also confirmed his death and offered condolences to his family.

Although Musharraf only really came to international prominence after supporting the United States in its “war on terror” after the 9/11 attacks, he first caught the eye with a slap in the face. ‘state he launched into the air.

His military takeover of Pakistan began in 1999 when he was army chief of staff. He launched the power grab against the country’s democratically elected prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, while on a flight returning from Sri Lanka. (Shehbaz Sharif, the current prime minister, is Nawaz Sharif’s brother.)

Relations between Nawaz Sharif and Musharraf, whom Sharif himself had appointed head of the army, had been deteriorating for months over how to handle relations with neighboring India. The two countries have long been adversaries, and Musharraf and other Pakistani military commanders have viewed Sharif’s overtures to India’s Hindu nationalist government with extreme suspicion, if not hostility.

In this file photo taken November 29, 2007, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf stands after being sworn in as civilian president at the presidential palace in Islamabad.
In this file photo taken November 29, 2007, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf stands after being sworn in as civilian president at the presidential palace in Islamabad.

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images

Enraged by the rumours, many of which were later proven to be factual, Sharif attempted to assert civilian control by dismissing Musharraf as he returned to Pakistan from his visit to Sri Lanka. To add insult to injury, Musharraf’s plane was ordered to divert to India after being denied permission to land in Pakistan.

But Musharraf didn’t have it. He retaliated by ordering his troops to take control of the airport where his plane was to land and then remove Sharif from power.

Musharraf’s troops remained loyal to him. Sharif was deposed and Musharraf installed himself as Pakistan’s new de facto president.

Immediately after 9/11, Musharraf strongly condemned the attacks and very publicly supported US efforts to destroy al-Qaeda and drive the group’s Taliban hosts from power in Afghanistan.

Musharraf had developed strong relationships with several American military figures while leading his own country’s armed forces, including People. Anthony Zinni, Tommy Franks and John Abizaid. Joint US-Pakistani operations on Pakistani soil after 9/11 led to the arrest of dozens of high-profile al-Qaeda figures, including the leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Pakistan has also become the main supply route for NATO’s operation in Afghanistan, saving the military alliance billions of dollars by allowing it to avoid supplying its troops via a longer route. long through Central Asia.

Musharraf survived several assassination attempts by al-Qaeda, but was continually criticized for not doing enough to purge Islamic extremists from the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Domestically, Musharraf’s economic and media liberalization policies helped more moderate forces in Pakistani society assert themselves on the religious right, which had dominated the country’s politics for decades.

President George W. Bush in Pakistan
President George W. Bush and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf meet September 22, 2004 in New York City.

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

However, after ruling Pakistan for nearly a decade, Musharraf’s popularity declined sharply after a series of scandals. He resigned as president in 2008 to avoid impeachment and went into exile, first to London and then to Dubai.

Braving death threats, he dramatically returned to his country in 2013, hoping to re-enter politics.

It didn’t go as he had hoped. Musharraf left, embroiled in a legal battle, then in 2019 he was sentenced to death in absentia for high treasonstemming from his actions after the 1999 coup and for failing to provide adequate security to former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007.

The death sentence was later overturned.

Musharraf was hospitalized in Dubai in May 2022 suffering from a rare disease called amyloidosis which can lead to multiple organ failure due to the buildup of a dangerous protein in the body.


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