Pakistan’s former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf remained a controversial figure until his death in Dubai on Sunday.
Musharraf, the 79-year-old four-star general of the Pakistan Army and the architect of the Kargil War in 1999, seized power after a military coup in 1999 and remained in charge until 2008.
The following incidents, believed to have led to his downfall, left a bitter memory and might continue to plague the country even after his demise.
- Red Mosque Operation: The operation from July 3-11 in 2007 is considered the turning point in his rule. The operation was launched to remove militants and extremists using the compound to harass the people in the capital city. More than 100 people inside the mosque were killed. It angered the country’s Islamists, resulting in countrywide terrorist attacks. Musharraf became unpopular after this operation, though the action was supported by the country’s liberals and his international backers.
- Sacking of Supreme Court Chief Justice: Musharraf removed the independent-minded Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on March 9, 2007, resulting in a massive agitation led by the lawyers. The sacking was condemned across the board and Musharraf lost the support of even liberals on this issue. The judge was later restored but Musharraf never recovered from its consequences.
- Declaration of Emergency: Musharraf imposed an emergency in the country on November 3, 2007 which lasted until December 15, 2007. The action further alienated him from the masses and created legal consequences as his action was a violation of article 6 for which he was tried by a special court and given a death sentence. Though he had also violated the Constitution in 1999, his action was validated by the Supreme Court to absolve him of any constitutional consequences.
- Killing of Akbar Bugti: He launched a military operation in Balochistan province to control a low-level insurgency, but it pitted him against an aged nationalist and tribal elder Nawaz Akbar Khan Bugti, who was also the former chief minister and lawmaker. Bugti refused to bow and led the struggle and was killed on August 26, 2006. His death further fueled the insurgency and it is still going on. Musharraf was accused of his murder and had to face a court case.
- Assassination of Benazir Bhutto: Former two-time premier Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide attack on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi. Later, a UN probe accused the government, led by Musharraf, of failing to provide proper security to her. Musharraf was later named in the murder case as an accused. He remained at large in the case till death.
- Deaths in Karachi: May 12, 2007 is considered a black day in the history of Karachi as at least 48 people were killed in the city when deposed Chief Justice Chaudhry was to visit Karachi. Musharraf was accused of violence as he had warned of retaliation if the judge dared to travel to Karachi. The city was controlled by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement party, an ally of Musharraf, and had a history of alleged violence.
- Siding with the US: Musharraf’s decision to side with the US in the war against terrorism is considered by many in Pakistan as the main reason for violence and militancy. Among others, former premier Imran Khan has said that Pakistan invited all troubles by joining the US war in Afghanistan.