In a nation generally opposed to Western influence, Pakistani
President Pervez Musharraf spent nearly seven years working to
balance the interests of his people with cooperating with U.S.
demands to root out Islamic extremists.
2001 marked a turning point, when Musharraf chose to reverse
the country's policy on working closely with the Taliban and not
interfering with al-Qaida to aligning with the United States in
its war on terror.
subsequent decisions gained him the nickname "Busharraf"
and a hailstorm of criticism from Pakistanis.
But the bond between the United States and Pakistan produced
$10 billion in aid from the United States since 2002, and Musharraf
has been one of the strongest U.S. allies in the hunt for members
"These few religious extremists ... destroyed the international
image of Pakistan and we were projected as a very backward country,"
Musharraf said in a January 2002 policy speech.
Despite winning re-election on Oct. 6, 2007, regional experts
and analysts said he seemed to be losing his mooring, and he provoked
international criticism for declaring a six-week state of emergency
later that year because of rising violence and political instability.
The move mobilized former officials Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif
and other opposition leaders to try to oust Musharraf in subsequent
"This is a person with steadily declining power and authority
and there is no way to really recapture that," said George
Perkovich, who overseas the South Asia Project at the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace. "Over time his clarity
of purpose got lost."
As a result of the growing opposition and international calls
for him to step down as army chief, Musharraf turned over his
military command to Gen. Ashfaq Kayani on Nov. 28, 2007, a day
before he was sworn in as president for a second five-year term.
And then the following year, a newly elected Parliament filled
with opposition party members began taking steps to impeach Musharraf.
But before they could, he announced his resignation in August
Pakistan had been under military rule for more than
half of its 60 years, but Musharraf's role as army chief and president
He came to power in 1999, after a 17-hour bloodless coup set
off by a showdown with then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
A rift with Sharif grew when Musharraf oversaw the capture of
an area on the Indian side of the line of control.
On Oct. 12, 1999, Musharraf was on a commercial plane from Sri
Lanka back to Karachi after hearing Sharif had plans for his removal.
Sharif signed Musharraf's dismissal papers while he was in flight
and announced Musharraf's "retirement."
The army then dispatched forces to Islamabad in support of Musharraf.
Sharif ordered the plane not to land in Karachi, so that Musharraf
could be arrested at a small airport and dealt with at his discretion.
Suspicious of the change in course, Musharraf entered the cockpit
and forced the pilot to circle Karachi until they could land,
as army supporters continued to carry out the coup and secure
After taking control, Musharraf proclaimed himself chief executive
then suspended the constitution and the parliament. The change
was generally accepted among Pakistanis who were tired of Sharif's
"People didn't lament Nawaz Sharif 's passing, and some
said, 'Let's give Musharraf a chance,'" said Perkovich. "He
was a benign dictator in the beginning."
The Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that his government was constitutional
and imposed a three-year deadline for democratic civilian rule.
Musharraf promised new elections in 2002.
Putting off democracy
But democracy did not come. In June 2001, Musharraf declared himself
president, while remaining head of the army, prompting an uproar
from opposition party leaders.
"The dictator has come up with his real face. His intention
is to cling to power," Reza Rabbani, a leader of Bhutto's
Pakistan People's Party, told the BBC in June 2001.
Within the year, the new president had made his promise to the
United States to fight extremism, and been embroiled in an armed
conflict and nuclear stand-off with India over the disputed territory
of Kashmir and terrorist attacks on the India parliament.
Before the conflict was resolved in mid-2002, Musharraf held
a referendum in April to extend his tenure as president by five
He was successful, but his opponents and international political
experts decried the referendum as a charade and said it was rigged.
Later that year, he granted himself new powers, including the
right to dismiss the parliament and the prime minister.
"It gave him these unlimited powers, establishing a one
person, all powerful presidency that was never approved by any
elected body," said Andersen.
Musharraf expanded the military's role in the government in 2004
when a National Security Council he was pushing for finally got
parliamentary approval. In December of that year, he failed to
deliver on a promise to the Islamic opposition to relinquish his
role in the military.
"I have decided to retain both offices," Musharraf
said in a nationwide television address. "In my view, any
change in internal or external policies can be extremely dangerous."
Despite the military's expanded role, the violence
enveloping the tribal lands on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border
known to harbor Islamic extremists became too much too handle
Pressure over loss of civilian lives and the deaths of hundreds
of soldiers prompted Pakistan's government to end operations in
the areas in September of 2006 and give power to tribal leaders
Then, Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftakar Mohammed Chaudhry
in March 2007, launching riots and demonstrations. The Supreme
Court rejected Musharraf's decision and reinstated Chaudhry several
In a move that further ostracized Pakistan's Islamist supporters,
Pakistani army commanders seized Islamabad's Red Mosque in July
2007, forcing the surrender of clerics, militants and students
holed up inside. Nearly 100 people were killed.
After a successful re-election bid, the Supreme Court considered
challenges to his candidacy as army chief. Musharraf again removed
Chaudhry, and a reshaped high court dismissed the challenges in
November 2007, clearing the way for his second term.
A short time into that second term, however, Musharraf faced
growing calls for a confidence vote in parliament, as the Pakistan
Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-N prepared charges of
abuse of office to present at impeachment proceedings.
Rather than go through impeachment proceedings, Musharraf announced
his resignation on Aug. 18, 2008 during an address to the nation
that ended with the words: "May God protect Pakistan, may God
protect you all. Long live Pakistan forever."