SC verdict deals another blow to Musharraf

Last Updated: Friday, July 31, 2009 - 23:53

Islamabad: Pakistan Supreme Court`s damning verdict declaring the 2007 emergency as "unconstitutional" came as a major setback for former President Pervez Musharraf who was forced to quit a year ago after a tumultuous nine-year reign.
Musharraf, who sacked 60 judges of the higher judiciary
including Chief Justice Ifthikar Muhammad Chaudhary after
declaring a state of emergency on November 3, was forced to
cut short his innings last year in the face of a humiliating
impeachment move by the Pakistan People`s Party-led coalition
government.

But his tenure as President was in a state of limbo
ever since he imposed emergency to pre-empt a judicial ruling
on his October 2007 re-election as civilian President, revoked
the measure and quit as army chief under intense international
and domestic pressure, entering uncharted waters as a civilian
president.

Sixty-five year old Musharraf, who was once
all-powerful in Pakistan, was busy giving lectures and
participating in private functions across the globe, including
India, after he stepped down as Pakistan President in August
last year.

Musharraf, who is currently staying in London, found
his nemesis in former premier and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif,
whom he had overthrown in a bloodless coup on October 12, 1999
and sent into exile a year later.

Sharif, who returned to the country from exile joined
forces with rival Benazir Bhutto`s Pakistan People`s Party
after her assassination and together with it trounced the
pro-Musharraf PML-Q, setting stage for the President`s ouster.

The dismissal of Pakistan Chief Justice Chaudhry on March
9, 2007 on charges of abuse of office, sparked nationwide
protests by lawyers and opposition parties, marking the
beginning of decline of Musharraf`s regime.

Media reports had suggested that Musharraf, a long time
US ally, was planning to launch a political party, but it did
not materialise.

Born on August 11, 1943 in Delhi, Musharraf came into
limelight in 1998 when the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
appointed him army chief on October seven.

Musharraf, the longest serving army chief in the country
after General Zia-ul-Haq , would never have reached the post
but for Sharif, who superseded him over several other
officers.

However, things went terribly wrong between the then
Prime Minister Sharif and General Musharraf after the 1999
Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan, as both of them
engaged in a blame game over the military misadventure.

While Sharif claimed that Musharraf was solely
responsible for the Kargil attack, the army chief alleged that
PML(N) leader had succumbed to US pressure.

Musharraf overthrew Sharif after the PML-N leader sacked
him as army chief. His first action after the Supreme Court
validated his bloodless coup, was to exile Sharif from
Pakistan, banning him from returning to the country for 10
years.

With Benazir Bhutto -- the then Opposition leader --
already in exile, Musharraf declared himself the country`s
chief executive and formally appointed himself President on
June 20, 2001, days before travelling to Agra for the summit
with then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee which failed to
yield any breakthrough.

In an attempt to legitimise his presidency, Musharraf
staged a widely criticised referendum on April 30, 2002 to
extend his term to five years and the pro-Musharraf PML-Q, a
breakaway faction of Sharif`s party, won a majority of seats
in general elections later that year.

On January 1, 2004 Musharraf won a confidence vote
from the electoral college comprising the five legislatures.
This body then re-elected him in uniform on October 6, 2007
for a second term as President.

Musharraf garnered support from Pakistan`s long-time
ally, America, by assisting the US-led forces in Afghanistan
in the war against terrorism that ensued the September 11,
2001 attack on the World Trade Centre.

He also decided against extending patronage to the
Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan. This was the period of
Musharraf`s rise at home as well as abroad.

But the battle-scarred armyman who reportedly often
carries a Glock pistol, earned the wrath of extremist elements
inside his country and was the target of at least three
assassination attempts.

Bureau Report



First Published: Friday, July 31, 2009 - 23:53

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