Pakistan's Former President Pervez Musharraf Dies After Prolonged Illness

Pakistan's Former President Pervez Musharraf Dies After Prolonged Illness

Former president of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf, who backed the US-led invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan during his tenure, has died after a prolonged illness at the age of 79.

The retired politician, who ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade after seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1999, passed away at a hospital in Dubai after spending years in self-imposed exile, news outlets reported on Sunday.

His death in the Emirate was confirmed by Pakistan's embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Born in Delhi in 1943 during the British Raj and raised in Karachi and Istanbul, Gen Musharraf was commissioned into the Pakistan army in 1964 and saw action during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 as a second lieutenant.

He rose to national prominence after being promoted to four-star general by prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998, as well as head of the armed forces.

At the time, Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency was backing the Taliban after they swept into power in Afghanistan in 1994, something Gen Musharraf was later reported to have supported.

Then, after leading the Kargil infiltration that prompted the India and Pakistan war in 1999, he responded to Mr Sharif's attempt to sack him by ordering the army to seize power, which in time led to him taking over Pakistan as president in 2001.

His presidency oversaw rapid economic growth, and he won plaudits around the world for his reformist efforts, pushing through legislation to protect the rights of women and allowing private news channels to operate for the first time.

He also pushed for social liberalism throughout his presidency, as well as economic liberalisation, and also banned trade unions and during his presidency survived two assassination attempts.