ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan’s exiled former military ruler Pervez Musharraf died in a Dubai hospital yesterday aged 79 after a long illness, the army said.
Musharraf seized power in a 1999 bloodless coup and was acting simultaneously as Pakistan’s army chief, chief executive, and president when the 9/11 attacks on the United States (US) took place.
The general became Washington’s chief regional ally during their invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan, surviving several assassination attempts by militants.
“Pakistan’s decision under Musharraf to join the war against terror turned out to be a boon,” analyst Hasan Askari told AFP, citing the influx of aid linked to his decision to back the US.
“He will be remembered as one who presided over Pakistan at a very critical time.”
Senior military chiefs “express heartfelt condolences on sad demise of General Pervez Musharraf”, a brief statement released by the military’s media wing said.
“May Allah the Almighty bless the departed soul and give strength to bereaved family.”
The four-star general died in hospital in Dubai yesterday morning, according to media reports and a senior security official who spoke to AFP.
“I can confirm that the late general breathed his last in Dubai this morning … He is no more,” the official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.
In nearly nine years of ruling the country, Musharraf oversaw a stint of economic growth spurred in large part by a huge injection of aid from Washington for supporting the war on terror. But the conflict quickly spilled into the border areas of Pakistan.
His easygoing persona also failed to mask the blurring of the division between the state and army, and Musharraf fell out of favour after trying to sack the chief justice and failing to control an unravelling economy.
Musharraf twice suspended Pakistan’s constitution – famously saying it “is just a piece of paper to be thrown in the dustbin” – and implemented emergency rule when a bid to sack the country’s chief justice sparked months of protests.