Former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf dies

Former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf died in Dubai, where he was hospitalized, at the age of 79 following a long illness, the army announced on Sunday February 5

Former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf dies

Former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf died in Dubai, where he was hospitalized, at the age of 79 following a long illness, the army announced on Sunday February 5. Senior military officials “express their sincere condolences on the passing of General Pervez Musharraf,” according to a brief statement released Sunday by the army press service. “May Allah bless the soul of the deceased and give strength to the bereaved family. »

Came to power in a coup in October 1999, when he was Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, he remained at the head of Pakistan until 2008. Straight shoulders, graying mustache and irremovable glasses, this admirer of Napoleon and Richard Nixon overthrew Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif without violence, assuming the title of President of the Republic in 2001. This former elite commando, born in Delhi on August 11, 1943, four years before the partition of India, proclaimed himself president in June 2001, before winning a controversial referendum in April 2002.

After the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States, in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, he had aligned his country with Washington's positions to make it a key ally of the United States in their "war against terrorism ". Pervez Musharraf then presented himself as a regional bulwark against Al-Qaida, whose leaders, allies of the Taliban, had found refuge in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. He survived at least three Al-Qaeda assassination attempts.

During his nine years in power, Pakistan has seen its economic growth take off, its middle class grow, the media liberalize and the military play the appeasement card against rival India.

Grasp of power

In this Muslim country, this cigar smoker and whiskey drinker was initially perceived as a moderate and had encountered little opposition until he took exceptional measures to seek to maintain power. His decision to remove the Chief Justice in March 2007 sparked nationwide protests and months of unrest that culminated in the imposition of a state of emergency.

His opponents have repeatedly denounced, in particular, the "illegal" dismissal of Supreme Court judges, the imposition of a state of emergency and the bloody assault on heavily armed Islamists who had taken refuge in the Red Mosque of Islamabad in summer of 2007. His declaration that "the Constitution is just a piece of paper to be thrown away" and his legacy have continued to divide opinion, in a nation that has seen several State military since its foundation in 1947.

Luxurious exile

After the assassination of the leader of the opposition, Benazir Bhutto, in December 2007, he experienced a rout in the elections the following year and found himself isolated. At the height of his unpopularity, under pressure from justice and the victorious coalition at the polls, ready to launch impeachment proceedings against him, he was forced to resign in August 2008.

He then embarked on a luxurious voluntary exile between London and Dubai, financed in part by generous payments for his conferences around the world. In March 2013, he ended his years of exile in order to participate in Pakistani elections and "save" the country from economic slump and Taliban peril.

But his ambitions to return to politics had been greeted with disdain by the Pakistanis and quickly shattered by multiple legal proceedings. He was ultimately not allowed to stand in the legislative elections, won by Nawaz Sharif, the man he had overthrown fourteen years earlier.

Death sentence overturned

Nostalgic, he had announced his return several times, before changing his mind, for fear of being imprisoned upon his arrival in the country.

In August 2017, a Pakistani court declared him a "fugitive" in the murder trial of Benazir Bhutto, the first modern-day woman to serve as prime minister in a Muslim country. He is suspected of having taken part in a vast conspiracy to kill his rival before the elections, which he has always denied.

In December 2019, a special court sentenced Pervez Musharraf to death in absentia for "high treason" for establishing a state of emergency in 2007. His sentence was later overturned.