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serving army chief in the country after General Zia-ul-Haq , would never have reached the post but for Sharif, who superseded him over several other officers.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