Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, a key U.S. ally in the campaign against al Qaeda following the militant group’s Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, died in Dubai on Sunday after a long illness. He is 79 years old.
Musharraf, a former four-star general who seized power after a 1999 military coup, died at a hospital in Dubai, where he had been in self-proclaimed exile since 2016. His body will be taken to Pakistan for burial on Monday, Geo News reported. .
“My condolences to the family of General Pervez Musharraf,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted. “May the departed soul rest in peace.”
Musharraf suffered from amyloidosis, a rare organ disease, and was hospitalized last year after becoming seriously ill, his family said.
He is credited with attracting foreign investment to Pakistan, which saw strong economic growth during the nearly 30 years of his rule, and enjoyed the support of the military and Pakistanis who supported his crackdown on militant groups.
But his decade-long rule was marred by a heavy-handed approach to dissent, including arresting rivals such as current prime minister Sharif and imposing a nearly six-week-long state of emergency that suspended and censored the constitution. media.
“He failed to build on his initial popularity to implement sustainable economic and political reforms and became a captive of military power and vested interests,” said Shuja Nawaz, author of several books on Pakistan’s military and a fellow at the US think-tank Atlantic Council.
Musharraf, who graduated from a Christian high school, was eager for Pakistan to embrace liberal Islam, which increased his appeal in the West after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
Musharraf, in what Washington calls his “war on terror,” has given US troops ground and air access to landlocked Afghanistan to chase al Qaeda militants.
The decision contradicted Pakistan’s longstanding support for the Taliban, which controlled Afghanistan at the time, and made Musharraf a target for domestic militant groups. He survived at least four assassination attempts.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella group of Pakistani militant organizations formed after Musharraf’s crackdown on insurgency, celebrated his death.
“This is a notorious army chief who sold the honor and respect of the country,” it said in a statement.
In a 2006 memoir, Musharraf said he “saved” Pakistan by joining the campaign against al Qaeda. He successfully lobbied the administration of former US President George W. Bush to pour money into the military of the nuclear-armed nation, which remains the most powerful in South Asia.
Domestically, Musharraf’s iron-fisted rule created turmoil. A state of emergency in 2007 was aimed at quelling protests fueled by a clampdown on the judiciary and the media. That same year, her government was criticized for not providing adequate security prior to the assassination by the Pakistani Taliban of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, a political rival who was killed while campaigning for national elections.
A Musharraf-backed party lost the polls in 2008 months later. Faced with parliamentary impeachment, he resigned and fled to London.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan in 2013 to run for parliament but was immediately disqualified. He moved to Dubai in 2016 and was executed in absentia three years later for the Emergency. The verdict was later overturned.
A former political aide of Musharraf told Geo News that he will be buried either in his family’s hometown of Karachi or in Rawalpindi, where the army headquarters is located.
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