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Pervez Musharraf

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Pervez Musharraf
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Pervez Musharraf is the former dictator (officially President, and before that Chief of Army Staff) of Pakistan. He took power in 1999 by leading the military in a bloodless coup against the elected leader Nawaz Sharif. After taking power, he suspended the constitution of Pakistan twice, both times in a desperate grasp to consolidate his waning power. However, Musharraf did not implement formal military rule except for a period of two months in 2007.

The most recent of these suspensions occurred on November 3, 2007, when Musharraf arrested the head of the Pakistani Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was coincidentally going to rule against the validity of Musharraf's October reelection. The ruling was likely going to say something along the lines of "the Pakistani constitution says that the Chief of Army Staff cannot hold the office of President while retaining the post of Chief of Army Staff, and since Musharraf did not step down as Chief of Army Staff, his presidency is invalid". Musharraf claimed that this would have destabilised the country at a time when it was threatened by a campaign of suicide bombings largely underreported in the West. The Pakistani constitution also forbids the President from holding an "office of profit" in the state.

The arrest involved a Pakistani army unit marching into the Supreme Court and arresting several of the judges, showing that Pervez is one of the people who subscribes to the "might makes right" doctrine. To be fair, Musharraf did step down as Chief of Army Staff, becoming an exclusively civilian leader.

Musharraf is also a mohajir - his family fled India in 1948 (from Uttar Pradesh) - which means that he does not have the feudal and dynastic connections and support that his self-styled "democratic" opponents possess. He was supported by the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaid-e Azam} and the MQM, a party influential in Karachi promoting mohajirs' interest. The Q League are an opportunistic centre-right split from the PML and the MQM a centre-left organisation which has links to organised crime. Sounds swell, right?

A BBC News report by Syed Shoaib Hasan (27 July 2007) criticised him for not intervening in the Lal Masjid in Islamabad, which was running Sharia law by thuggery until the Army stormed it in 2007. The report also stated that Lal Masjid ("Red Mosque") was the centre of open calls for Musharraf's assassination and that it had connections with the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence), many of whom worshipped there, as it is local to their HQ.