GENERAL Pervez Musharraf.
GENERAL Pervez Musharraf.

ISLAMABAD: Former military dictator Pervez Musharraf, who usurped power after a coup in October 1999 and ruled Pakistan till 2008, breathed his last at age of 79 in Dubai, after a protracted battle with a rare disease, amyloidosis.

The news of his death first emerged on social media in the morning before making it to the mainstream media following confirmation by the Pakistani consulate in Dubai and the family of the former army chief. The condition of the former dictator was said to be critical for the past few months, as his organs started to fail due to the fatal illness.

The body of Mr Musharraf, who will be laid to rest in Karachi, will be brought back to Pakistan thro­ugh a special flight that would leave for Dubai on Monday (today). In order to facilitate his family in the process of repatriation, the Cons­ulate General of Pakistan in Dubai has also issued a no-objection certificate (NOC). “We are in touch with the family and the consulate will facilitate in whatever way it can; the consulate has issued the no-objection certificate,” a media report quoted Consul General Hassan Afzal Khan as saying.

His illness came to light in 2018 when the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) announced that he was suffering from amyloidosis, a group of rare, serious conditions caused by a build-up of an abnormal protein called amyloid in organs and tissues throughout the body.

Body to be repatriated to Pakistan via ‘special flight’ as family, supporters mourn the loss

In June last year, the former military strongman was hospitalised for three weeks, prompting rumours of his death. However, his family had to issue a statement to refute these reports.

“Going through a difficult stage where recovery is not possible and organs are malfunctioning. Pray for ease in his daily living,” his family said at the time in a statement via Mr Musharraf’s official Twitter account.

The former dictator left Pakistan for medical treatment in March 2016, two years after he was indicted by a court for suspending the Constitution on Nov 3, 2007. On Dec 17, 2019, a special court formed to hear the high treason case against the ex-dictator handed him a death sentence. However, the decision of the special court was suspended by a Lahore High Court bench.

Reactions

After the news of the death emerged, condolences started pouring in from all quarters, as politicians and civil society recalled the “mixed legacy” of the former military chief.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, through his personal Twitter handle, said: “I offer my condolences to the family of General (retired) Pervez Musharraf. May the departed soul rest in peace!”

President Arif Alvi also expressed sorrow over the death of the former army chief and expressed sympathy with the bereaved family.

Nawaz Sharif, whose government was dislodged by the former military chief in 1999, also condoled the death via his Twitter account.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan in a tweet said: “On the passing of General (rerd) Pervez Musharraf my condolences and prayers go to his family. May Allah give them strength to bear this loss.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari replaced the display picture on his Twitter account with a photo of slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto and Nawab Akbar Bugti in a symbolic gesture. It may be noted that the former strongman was accused in both murder cases.

In a series of tweets, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani expressed deep sorrow over the former president’s death and extended condolences to the grieving family.

In a statement issued immediately after the news of his demise, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Sahir Shamshad and all the services chiefs expressed their heartfelt condolences. “May Allah bless the departed soul and give strength to the bereaved family,” the military’s media wing said.

In a tweet, ex-PM Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son Ali Musa Gilani said: “Musharraf is dead...Democracy is alive, people who died for this cause are alive. Musharraf rule not only took five years of my father’s life but took the childhood of many, including me.”

Former Pakistan ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi offered a prayer for the former president. “Gen Pervez Musharraf has passed away. May Allah rest him in peace. Ameen,” she said in a video message.

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said Mr Musharraf was a “great person” whose ideology was to always keep Pakistan first.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2023

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