New Delhi, February 5
Pakistan’s former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, the architect of Kargil war, died after a prolonged illness in Dubai on Sunday. Musharraf, 79, who lived in a self-imposed exile in the UAE to avoid criminal charges against him in Pakistan, was suffering from amyloidosis, a rare disease caused by a build-up of an abnormal protein called amyloid in organs and tissues throughout the body.
- Editorial: General Musharraf
Musharraf’s life witnessed numerous upheavals, especially after his military career entered the fast lane, courtesy Benazir Bhutto at first, and then Nawaz Sharif, to the everlasting regret of both of them. His list of omissions was so long that even the powerful Pakistan military was unable to ensure his continued stay, especially after democracy had struck firmer roots around 2013 with the PPP completing five years in saddle, followed by the return of his bête noire Sharif as the PM.
Prior to the Mumbai attack in 2008, when India and Pakistan seemed to be mending fences with vigour, much was made of Musharraf’s Muhajir origin. His personal connection with India was tenuous though his well-heeled family had served in Delhi’s officialdom for three generations.
He was enrolled in the Pakistan army at the age of 18 and was commissioned in 1964 with his first baptism by fire in the Afghan civil war that took place the same year. Next year, he was a participant in the Khemkaran sector during the Indo-Pak war. He missed out the Indo-Pak war as his Special Service Group (SSG) detachment was on the move when the Dhaka surrender happened. Nor did he play any role in the 1971 war, all the while gaining valuable experience with the SSG, culminating with him commanding a brigade in Siachen Glacier in 1987 when Pakistan was still not reconciled to India’s surprise occupation of the sector’s commanding heights three years earlier. A book claimed it was then that the Indian Army evicted the Pakistanis from Qaid Post which was later renamed Bana Post. Musharraf’s brigade was believed to have lost 200 men and the Indian Army between 20 and 50 during one such futile assault on Bilafond La. It may have been then that firmed up in his mind to occupy Indian positions further down in Kargil.
In between actually implementing the plan in 1999, which had been rejected by the higher command years back, Musharraf picked up a two- and three-star rank during the two tenures of Benazir Bhutto and was part of her delegation during visits to the US, reports author Dilip Hero. Given the four-star rank by Nawaz Sharif, the duo was to fall out over the Kargil war. In a dramatic turn of events, Sharif did not want Musharraf’s plan en route from Colombo to land in the country triggering a coup that saw the General taking over as the country’s President. Musharraf later began facing heat from the radicals, surviving at least four assassination attempts, each more deadly than the previous.
By 2007, it was becoming clear that the Pakistanis were looking for a change. A year later, he was in a self-imposed exile after which the General always remained on the back foot till his death even as the Pakistani courts heard charges against him from treason to murder.
On the Indo-Pak front, from train services to more Indo-Pak interactions became the order of the day during his tenure. The big guns on the border fell silent. The thread of his peace talks was picked by the India-friendly PPP government that replaced him in 2008. The Mumbai attacks the same year put paid to an ambitious agenda that included Musharraf’s nearly-sealed deal for a status quo in Kashmir before his ouster.
General’s engagements with India
- Pervez Musharraf visited India for Agra summit in 2001
- In 2005 as President to watch India-Pak cricket match
- In 2009 for media event after stepping down as President
- Experts describe his legacy as ‘disputed’ and say he realised after Kargil that nothing would change in Pak if it did not have good ties with India
- General Musharraf lived in self-exile in UAE even as Pak courts heard charges against him from treason to murder
Tharoor triggers row
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s post on the social media, saying Musharraf, ‘once an implacable foe of India’, became a ‘real force for peace’ later, drew the BJP’s ire with the saffron party accusing the Congress of ‘eulogising’ the architect of Kargil war
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