Pervez Musharraf, the four-star general who ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade after seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1999, has died in Dubai.
Musharraf, 79, died in hospital after a long illness after spending years in self-imposed exile.
The Pakistani military confirmed his death in a statement, expressing “heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of General Pervez Musharaf, former president, CJCSC and Chief of Army Staff.”
“May Allah bless the departed soul and give strength to the bereaved family,” it read.
The spokesperson for the Pakistani mission in the United Arab Emirates confirmed that he “passed away this morning,” and said they were in contact with Musharraf’s family.
The former president was suffering from amyloidosis, a rare disease that occurs when an abnormal protein builds up in organs and interferes with normal functions. He was admitted to hospital in the UAE last year.
Musharraf came to power in a coup in 1999 that toppled Nawaz Sharif’s government, and went on to hold the presidency from 2001 to 2008, when he resigned to avoid impeachment. Since then he has spent most of his time in self-imposed exile in the UK and the Middle East.
A key ally of the US in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, his time in power became notorious for oppression and rampant human rights abuses, especially in its latter years. In 2007 he suspended the constitution, imposed martial law, sacked the chief justice of the supreme court and arrested activists and lawyers, prompting mass protests.
After resigning in 2008, Musharraf returned from self-imposed exile in March 2013 in a disastrous bid to contest a seat in that year’s general elections. High-treason legal proceedings against him began in 2014, but in 2016, Musharraf was allowed to leave the country on medical grounds.
In 2019, Musharraf was found guilty of treason for suspending the constitution and imposing emergency rule in 2007. He was sentenced to death. The judgment was later reversed.
Local media reported last year that he had expressed a desire to return to Pakistan and spend the “rest of his life” in his home country.