General Pervez Musharraf (born August 11, 1943, Delhi, India) became de facto ruler (using the title Chief Executive and assuming extensive power) of Pakistan on October 12, 1999 following a bloodless coup d'état. He assumed the office of President of Pakistan (becoming Head of State) on June 20, 2001.
On May 12, 2000 the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered Musharraf to hold general elections by October 12, 2002. In an attempt to legitimize his presidency and assure its continuance, he held a referendum on April 30, 2002, which extended his presidential term to a period ending five years after the October elections. However, the referendum was boycotted by the majority of Pakistani political groupings, and voter turnout was 30% or below by most estimates.
General elections were held in October, 2002 and a pro-Musharraf party, the PML-Q, won a plurality of the seats in the Parliament. However, parties opposed to Musharraf effectively paralyzed the National Assembly for over a year, until, in accordance with a deal with the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal party, Musharraf agreed to leave the army on December 31, 2004. With that party's support, pro-Musharraf legislators were able to muster the two-thirds supermajority required to pass the Seventeenth Amendment, which retroactively legalized Musharraf's 1999 coup and many of his subsequent decrees.
In a vote of confidence on January 1, 2004, Musharraf won 658 out of 1,170 votes in the Electoral College of Pakistan, and according to Article 41(8) of the Constitution of Pakistan, was "deemed to be elected" to the office of President.
On September 15, 2004, Musharraf backed down from his commitment to step down as Army chief, citing circumstances of national necessity that he felt required him to keep both offices.
Musharraf was born in Daryaganj in Delhi, India but moved with his parents to Karachi, Pakistan during the partition of India (1947). Both of his parents attended college; his mother's major was English Literature. She worked for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and retired in 1986. Musharraf's father, a graduate of the Aligarh University in India, served in the Pakistan foreign service and led a distinguished career. He retired as the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.
Musharraf was schooled at Karachi's Saint Patrick's High School and Forman Christian College, Lahore. A graduate of Command and Staff College, Quetta, and the National Defense College, General Pervez Musharraf also distinguished himself at the Royal College of Defense Studies, United Kingdom. His supervisor, commenting on his performance remarked in his report: "A capable, articulate and extremely personable officer, who made a most valuable impact here. His country is fortunate to have the services of a man of his undeniable quality."
In 1961, he joined the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul and was commissioned in artillery regiment in 1964. He fought the 1965 war with India as a young officer and was awarded Imtiazi Sanad for gallantry. In 1967/68, he was promoted to Captain. He also achieved the Nishan-i-Imtiaz (military) and the Tamgha-i-Basalat. He has also been on the faculty of the Command and Staff College, Quetta and the war wing of the National Defence College. He volunteered to be a commando, and remained in the Special Service Group for seven years. He also participated in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 as a Company Commander in the Commando Battalion. He has had the privilege of commanding artillery regiments and an armored division. On promotion to the rank of Major General on January 15, 1991, he was given the command of an Infantry Division and later of a prestigious strike Corps as Lieutenant General on October 21, 1995.
Musharraf has served on various important staff and instructional appointments during his career. He has also been the Director General Military Ops at the GHQ from 1993 to 1995. He rose to the rank of General and was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan on October 7, 1998 when Pakistan's army chief, General Jehangir Karamat, resigned two days after calling for the army to be given a key role in the country's decision-making process. He was given additional charge of Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee on April 9, 1999.
Rise to power
Later he rose to the rank of a full General and was appointed the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), the highest office in the Pakistani Army. As COAS, he seized power in a bloodless military coup d'état on October 12, 1999, placing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif under house arrest. Musharraf then dissolved the parliament and the state assemblies and began administrating Pakistan on his own. He formally became President of Pakistan on June 20, 2001, just days before his scheduled visit for Agra Talks with India.
PR image of a moderate leader constructed
Musharraf is described as a moderate leader by Western governments, in no small part because he is surrounded by militarists and Islamists with less need to conceal their politics. the easily gulled believe that Musharraf is sincere in his desire to bridge the Islamic and the Western worlds and has previously spoken strongly against the idea of the inevitability of a 'clash of civilisations' between them. Musharraf's emotional ties to the United States may be conjectured to be significant since at least two close members of his family live there: his brother, a doctor, lives in Chicago, Illinois and his son, who lives in Boston, Massachusetts, got his Master's degree from MIT and heads a venture-funded hi-tech startup in Boston. Musharraf's only other child, a daughter, is an architect. Both his parents acquired American citizenship. Musharraf's elder brother, who was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, works for the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome, Italy.
Orthodox Muslims consider dogs to be 'unclean', and therefore keep their pet dogs outside of their homes in a separate area on the property. In principle at least, Islam requires humane treatment of all people, except women, and other living things. Musharraf has several dogs. He is quoted to have said in an interview, "My dogs love me. And I love my dogs."
Musharraf has been open to making economic reforms and to modernize Pakistan. He is considered to be a modern, English-style officer, like the old Pakistan army before Muhammad Zia ul-Haq's rule, which was heavily influenced by the United States and whose officers were often trained there.
Partner in the "War on Terror"
Following the September 11, 2001 Attacks Musharraf has worked closely with President of the United States George W. Bush in the "War on Terror" (causing widespread discontent among people in Pakistan, who see this cooperation as a sign of weakness). Musharraf's support for the USA was indispensable in defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan with the ease that it was routed. This was done after his swift and strategically sound decision to cease Pakistan's long running support of the Taliban. Pakistan cut the Taliban's oil and supply lines, provided intelligence and acted as a logistics support area for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Shortly after the events of 9/11, Musharraf gave a watershed speech on Pakistan Television in which he pledged his and Pakistan's support to the United States in its war on terrorism. Apologists for Pakistan described the Taiban as a largely independent phenomenon. More honest appraisals revcognize that the Pakistani Army and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence helped to bring the Taliban to power and supported it openly until 9/11. After that elements of the Pakistani Army and ISI continued their assistance, which helps explain how Osama bin laden and Mullah Omar could cross the border into Pakistan during the Tora Bora Breakout.
Since 9/11 the government of Pakistan has played a complex double game with the United States, giving half hearted support whiel protecting its Islamist assets.
Popularity in Pakistan
Musharraf is a very eloquent speaker and has given many interviews and speeches on various US and European TV channels and other media. He even paid a visit to the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, California, in June 2003. His support for the US-led War on Terror has been a cause for dislike by some right wing Islamic fundamentalist parties in Pakistan. The US's image in Pakistan has suffered ostensibly after the war in Iraq without a UN resolution. Musharraf has bluntly refused to send any Pakistani troops to Iraq without a UN resolution.
Even though Musharraf seized power in a military coup, his rule is accepted by most Pakistanis because they are accustomed to military rule and the democratic elements in Pakistani society have been effectively de-mobilized. It also helps that the two leaders before him who were democratically elected were widely thought to be kleptocrats. Pakistani officers like Musharraf on the other hand know how to steal without getting caught by using intimidation and encouraging religious fanaticism to cover their crimes.
On December 14, 2003, General Musharraf survived an assassination attempt when a powerful bomb went off minutes after his highly-guarded convoy crossed a bridge in Rawalpindi. It was the third such attempt during his four-year rule.
11 days later, on December 25, 2003, two suicide bombers tried to assassinate Musharraf, but their car bombs failed to kill the president; 16 others nearby died instead. Musharraf escaped with only a cracked windshield on his car. It has been reported that Amjad Hussain Farooqi is suspected of being the mastermind behind these attempts, and there has been an extensive manhunt for him.
Elections during Musharraf's administration
On May 12, 2000, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered Musharraf to hold national elections by October 12, 2002. Elections for local governments were took place in 2001. Elections for the national and provincial legislatures were held in October 2002, with no party winning a majority. In November 2002, Musharraf handed over certain powers to the newly elected Parliament. The National Assembly elected Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali as Prime Minister of Pakistan, who in turn appointed his own cabinet.
On January 1, 2004 Musharraf won a confidence vote in the Electoral College of Pakistan, consisting of both houses of Parliament and the four provincial assemblies. Musharraf received 658 out of 1170 votes, a 56% majority, but many opposition and Islamic members of parliament walked out to protest the vote. As a result of this vote, according to Article 41(8) of the Constitution of Pakistan, Musharraf was "deemed to be elected" to the office of President. His term now extends to 2007. While Musharraf's 2002 referendum on his rule had been heavily criticized and dismissed by critics, his electoral-college victory has received much greater acceptance within and outside Pakistan.
Prime Minister Jamali resigned on 26 June 2004, and in his place the National Assembly elected Shaukat Aziz, a former Vice President of Citibank and head of Citibank Private Banking. The new government was mostly supportive of Musharraf, who remained President and Head of State in the new government. Musharraf continues to be the active executive of Pakistan, especially in foreign affairs.
Pakistan is a nuclear armed state responsible for spreading nuclear weapons technology to other countries. That would be considered bad in official Washignton if Pakistan wasn't so usewful. Recall that weapons of mass destruction were the first pretext for the current Republican War in Iraq. Immense concern is expressed about the possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons. Pakistani nuclear weapons on the other hand are pretty much accepted as a fait accompli by Republcians. After all, they are being pointed at 1 billion Indians in the world's largest democracy and not a 6 million Israelis. One could almost think that Washington valuee Israeli lives more than Indian lives! Perhaps valuing each Israeli life 167 times as much as each Indian life.
Following the disclosure of promiscuous nuclear proliferation by Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the metallurgist known as the father of Pakistan's bomb, Musharraf implausibly denied knowledge of or participation by Pakistan's government or army in this proliferation. Despite evidence to the contrary,  , ), the second Bush adminsitration allowed him to get away with the lie. AQ Khan has been pardoned after an apology.
Peace overtures with India
Musharraf was the chief architect of the Pakistani incursions into the Indian held disputed territory of Kashmir (Kargil sector), in the summer of 1999. The Pakistani army was decisively defeated and forced to retreat. Although some reports suggest that Musharraf retreated after huge pressure on the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from the American President, who feared the conflict could turn into a nuclear catastrophe. As this came just after the Lahore Peace Summit earlier that year, he was viewed with mistrust in India.
In the middle of 2004, Musharraf began a series of talks with India to solve the Kashmir dispute. Both India and Pakistan have bombs and nuclear warhead delivery systems capable of attacking each other, due to their close proximity. Both countries are continuing to aggressively increase their nuclear capabilities by actively producing even more nuclear weapons and perfecting their missile technology by conducting tests of ever more sophisticated missiles.
Pakistan has publicly stated that it reserves the right to 'exercise its nuclear option' first, in a large scale war with India. On the other hand India has a 'no first nuclear strike' policy enshrined in its nuclear doctine. In response Musharraf has instead offered a "no war pact" to India.
- Government of Pakistan website
- The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
- Biography on storyofpakistan.com
- Time Magazine Cover Story on Musharraf
- Profile dated September 24, 2001 on BBC
- President Musharraf Biography dated December 25, 2003 on BBC
- General Pervez Musharraf
- "Transcript of interview with His Excellency President Pervez Musharraf" - telegraph.co.uk, June 20, 2004