General Musharraf: As Army Chief, he launched Pakistan’s fourth war against India - The Tribune India

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General Musharraf

As Army Chief, he launched Pakistan’s fourth war against India

General Musharraf

Gen Pervez Musharraf, Former Pakistan President. File photo



THE name of former Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf, who died after a prolonged illness in the UAE, will always remain synonymous with the 1999 Kargil war. Delhi-born Gen Musharraf, the then Pakistan Army Chief, was the mastermind of this war — the fourth between the two countries since 1947. It happened months after India’s Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee — acting in good faith — took the Sada-e-Sarhad ‘bus of peace’ to Lahore, where he signed a peace accord with his counterpart Nawaz Sharif. A veteran of the 1965 and 1971 India-Pak wars, Gen Musharraf intended to turn the tables on India and establish himself as Pakistan’s supremo; instead, his country suffered another humiliating defeat — for the second time in less than three decades after the debacle that led to the creation of Bangladesh.

The Kargil disaster, however, did not dampen Gen Musharraf’s ambition. In October 1999, he deposed the then PM Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup and installed himself as the Chief Executive of Pakistan. He took over as the President in June 2001; barely six months later, India-Pak ties hit a new low as the Indian Parliament was rocked by a terror attack. The chill in bilateral relations did not last long as India gave Gen Musharraf-led Pakistan a chance to redeem itself. The resumption of cricketing ties — with India and Pakistan playing a succession of home-and-away Test series from 2004 to 2007 — was a positive development during his seven-year-long tenure as President.

For the better part of his presidency, Gen Musharraf doubled as the Army Chief, thus holding the reins of power firmly in his hands. In a brazen bid to prolong his tenure, he suspended the Constitution and declared a state of emergency in November 2007. Subsequently, a series of reversals — including electoral losses and the awarding of death sentence (later annulled) in a high treason case — ensured that he never returned to power. He was virtually reduced to a nonentity in his final years, with India remembering him more for the wrong reasons than the right ones.


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