Former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, who had been living in Dubai since 2016, breathed his last on Sunday.
The 79-year-old former president and chief of army staff was suffering from amyloidosis, a rare disease caused by a build-up of an abnormal protein called amyloid in organs and tissues throughout the body, according to his family. The build-up of amyloid proteins (deposits) can make it difficult for the organs and tissues to work properly.
The former ruler’s illness came to light in 2018 when the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), Musharraf’s party, announced that he was suffering from the rare disease.
Expressing his deep sorrow over the news, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of Pakistan (CJCSC) and Services Chiefs offered their heartfelt condolences.
“May Allah bless the departed soul and give strength to bereaved family”, read a statement issued by the ISPR — the millitary’s media wing.
His family moved from New Delhi to Karachi in 1947. He joined the Pakistan Army in 1964 and was a graduate of the Army Staff and Command College, Quetta.
Musharraf assumed the post of Chief Executive after imposing martial law in the country in 1999 in a bloodless coup after the then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif tried to dismiss him as army chief, having appointed him above more senior officers a year earlier.
The four-star general served as the president of Pakistan from 2001 to 2008. He ruled the country under the backdrop of the 9/11 attacks on the US , and swiftly aligned with Washington during its military intervention in neighbouring Afghanistan.
In more than seven years in office, he oversaw a stint of economic growth while dodging at least three assassination attempts.
Musharraf won a five-year term as president in a 2002 referendum, but reneged on promises to quit as army chief until late 2007.
His easygoing charm also failed to mask the blurring of the division between the state and army, and he fell out of favour after trying to sack then-chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.
Remembered as the “Lawyers Movement”, a major resistance against Musharraf’s rule was triggered by the top judge’s challenge to the legality of Musharraf’s dual role as president and Army Chief. Though after massive rallies brought Chaudhry back into office on July 20, 2007, Musharraf reverted to trying to take back control of things only months later as he imposed an emergency, suspending the Constitution in Pakistan.
As the lawyer’s resistance grew larger, about 97 senior judges were immediately fired and detained for refusing to accept the emergency rule.
After the December 2007 assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, the national mood soured even more, and the crushing losses his allies suffered in 2008 elections left him isolated.
Musharraf’s plan to return to power in 2013 was dashed when he was disqualified from running in an election won by Nawaz — the man he had deposed in 1999.
In 2016 a travel ban was lifted and Musharraf travelled to Dubai to seek medical treatment.
In 2014, Musharraf was indicted for suspending the Constitution on November 3, 2007. The ex-military strongman was awarded the death sentence in absentia in a high treason case by a special court in December 2019.
However, a court later nullified the ruling.