Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan martial ruler in 9/11 wars, dies
General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup and later led a reluctant Pakistan into aiding the United States war in Afghanistan against the Taliban, has died, officials said Sunday. He was 79.
Musharraf, a former special forces commando, became president through the last of a string of military coups that roiled Pakistan since its founding amid the bloody 1947 partition of India. He ruled the nuclear-armed state after his 1999 coup through tensions with India, an atomic proliferation scandal and an Islamic extremist insurgency. He stepped down in 2008 while facing possible impeachment.
Later in life, Musharraf lived in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid criminal charges, despite attempting a political comeback in 2012. But it wasn’t to be as his poor health plagued his last years. He maintained a soldier’s fatalism after avoiding a violent death that always seemed to be stalking him as Islamic militants twice targeted him for assassination.
“I have confronted death and defied it several times in the past because destiny and fate have always smiled on me,” Musharraf once wrote. “I only pray that I have more than the proverbial nine lives of a cat.”
Musharraf’s family announced in June 2022 that he had been hospitalised for weeks in Dubai while suffering from amyloidosis, an incurable condition that sees proteins build up in the body’s organs. They later said he also needed access to the drug daratumumab, which is used to treat multiple myeloma. That bone marrow cancer can cause amyloidosis.
Shazia Siraj, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani Consulate in Dubai, confirmed his death and said diplomats were providing support to his family.
The Pakistani military also offered its condolences as did Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of the prime minister Musharraf overthrew in 1999.
“May God give his family the courage to bear this loss,” Sharif said.
Pakistan, a nation nearly twice the size of California along the Arabian Sea, is now home to 220 million people. But it would be its border with Afghanistan that would soon draw the US′s attention and dominate Musharraf’s life a little under two years after he seized power.
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden launched the September 11, 2001, attacks from Afghanistan, sheltered by the country’s Taliban rulers. Musharraf knew what would come next.
“America was sure to react violently, like a wounded bear,” he wrote in his autobiography. “If the perpetrator turned out to be al-Qaida, then that wounded bear would come charging straight toward us.”
By September 12, then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell told Musharraf that Pakistan would either be “with us or against us”. Musharraf said another American official threatened to bomb Pakistan ”back into the Stone Age” if it chose the latter.
Musharraf chose the former. A month later, he stood by then-President George W. Bush at the Waldorf Astoria in New York to declare Pakistan’s unwavering support to fight with the United States against “terrorism in all its forms wherever it exists”.