Pakistani general and military ruler, head of the army 1998–2001 and president 2001–08. He seized power from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999 after Sharif has sought to remove him from his post as army chief of staff. He suspended the national assembly and pledged to turn around the near-bankrupt economy before allowing a return to democratic rule. After the 11 September 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on New York, he became an important ally of the USA in its war on terror. His support for the US-led military campaign against Afghanistan's al-Qaeda-linked Taliban regime brought in financial aid from the USA, but the Taliban's overthrow destabilized Pakistan, as militants set up bases in its border areas and there was growing internal opposition from Islamic fundamentalists. As a consequence, Musharraf faced several assassination attempts. In November 2007, he imposed a state of emergency and ousted dozens of judges after legal challenges to his controversial re-election as president in October 2007. Facing impending impeachment from a newly elected anti-Musharraf government, in August 2008 he resigned as president.
Born in Delhi, the son of a diplomat, his family emigrated to Pakistan during the 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent. He joined the army in 1964 and rose through the ranks, despite not coming from the Punjabi officer class that dominates the Pakistan army – he comes from an Urdu-speaking family in Karachi. He led artillery, infantry, and commando units before being appointed director general of military operations by the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. He became a major-general in 1991, a lieutenant-general in 1995, and a general and army chief of staff in 1998 when Gen Jehangir Karamat resigned, two days after calling for the army to be given a key role in the country's decision making process. In July 2001 he held a summit meeting with Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, but failed to make headway in the two countries' dispute over Kashmir.