Pervez Musharraf, former military ruler of Pakistan, laid to rest | News

Pervez Musharraf, who supported the US invasion of Afghanistan, was buried in a Karachi cemetery with ‘military honours’.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who supported the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, has been buried in a cemetery in the southern city of Karachi with “full military honours”.

Musharraf died of a long illness on Sunday at the age of 79 in Dubai, where he had lived since 2016. He suffered from amyloidosis, a rare disease that causes organ damage.

Tahir Hussain, a spokesman for Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) political party, said former army chiefs, senior military officials and political figures attended the former president’s funeral.

“Recently retired Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, former commanders [Mirza] Aslam Beg, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, as well as the former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate [Ahmad] Shuja Pasha was present at the funeral,” Hussain told Al Jazeera.

Hussain said around 3,000-4,000 people attended the funeral in the Malir military cantonment despite tight security. Musharraf’s body was then taken to a military cemetery 20 km (12 mi) southwest for burial.

Ishaq Khan Khakwani, a former minister of state under Musharraf, who also attended the funeral, said people from all walks of life were present.

Pakistan Musharraf
Paramilitary Rangers and police officers stand guard outside the Malir Garrison ahead of the funeral of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Karachi [Asif Hassan/AFP]

Joined the so-called ‘war on terror’

Musharraf’s body was flown back to Pakistan on Monday evening on a special flight, accompanied by his wife Sehba and his two children Bilal and Ayla.

Musharraf was personally handpicked by then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as Pakistan’s army chief in 1998. But he took power a year later in a bloodless coup after Sharif tried to oust him as army chief.

Under Musharraf, Pakistan became a key US ally and joined its so-called “war on terror” after the deadly attacks of September 11, 2001.

The nine-year mandate of the former military ruler is remembered for serious violations of human rights in that South Asian country. It also allowed the US to carry out airstrikes on Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

He resigned as army chief in 2007 to become president. In the same year, Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in the country to quell mass protests across the country against his rule.

In December 2007, one of his main critics, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was killed in an attack in the city of Rawalpindi during a campaign rally. The family of the slain leader accused the general of being behind the murder, which Musharraf denied.

In the general elections held in February 2008, Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party won. Faced with the threat of impeachment, Musharraf subsequently resigned as president and eventually left the country for Dubai.

During self-exile, he divided his time between London and Dubai.

High treason trial

In 2010, Musharraf founded the All Pakistan Muslim League political party, but suffered a humiliating defeat in the 2013 general elections. Sharif, who was deposed by Musharraf in 1999, returned to power. Musharraf himself was disqualified a month before the 2013 elections.

Sharif’s government launched a treason trial against Musharraf for suspending the country’s constitution twice during his rule.

In December 2019, a special court found him guilty in absentia of high treason and violation of the constitution and sentenced him to death.

Director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, Uzair Younus, said that although the former general had passed away, “the long and dark shadow of his rule continues to haunt Pakistan.”

“While some, like the citizens of Karachi, still fondly remember him for the development they saw during his era, when these benefits are weighed against the costs suffered by generations of Pakistanis during and after his dictatorship, it is abundantly clear that generations of Pakistanis lost to the election which Musharraf did,” Younus told Al Jazeera.

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