Following a protracted battle with serious illness, 79-year-old Pervez Musharraf, the former president and army general of Pakistan who ruled for nearly a decade after seizing power in a bloodless military coup in 1999, died on Sunday, February 5th, at a hospital in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), military officials announced.
Musharraf, who pledged critical support for the United States’ ‘War on Terror’ after the 2001 attacks of September 11th—despite fierce opposition within Pakistan—had long been bedridden due to his suffering from amyloidosis, a rare disease that can cause organ failure, Euronews reports.
After passing away at the American Hospital in Dubai, Musharraf’s death was confirmed to the public by Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, the head of the joint chiefs of staff of the Pakistani military.
In a statement released by Pakistan’s media wing, senior military personnel expressed their “heartfelt condolences,” and said: “May Allah bless the departed soul and give strength to the bereaved family.”
Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi prayed “for eternal rest of the departed soul and courage to the bereaved family to bear this loss,” while Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his condolences as well.
During his time in power, from 1999 to 2008, Musharraf worked to become an indispensable figure in combating radical Islamic extremism in the region. His political detractors, however, accused him of human rights abuses and widespread oppression.
At one point, in November of 2007, several years after surviving two assassination attempts, Musharraf declared a state of emergency, suspended the country’s constitution, and shut down independent media outlets. He claimed to have done so in order to stabilize the country amid rising Islamist extremism.
In 2008, after his political allies suffered a crushing defeat at the ballot boxes, which left him isolated, Musharraf stepped down and went into exile in London. Following his return to Pakistan in 2013—and his subsequent attempt to make a political comeback in that year’s election—Musharraf was arrested and prevented from running for office.
Musharraf left Pakistan for Dubai in 2016 for medical treatment and had been living in exile there ever since. Charged with high treason in 2019 for his actions as president, including his suspension of the constitution, he was sentenced in absentia to death by a special court, only to have the decision overturned less than a month later.
Upon the request of his family, the ex-president’s body is due to be flown back from the UAE to Pakistan on Monday, February 6th.