Following independence from Great Britain and the creation of the state of Pakistan, the Musharraf family moved to Karachi. Musharraf’s father was a diplomat and the family spent seven years, from 1949 to 1956, in Turkey. Musharraf became fluent in Turkish but his education also included attending Saint Patrick’s High School in Karachi and Lahore’s Forman Christian College.
Musharraf entered the Pakistan Military Academy in 1961 and in 1964 received commission to the Artillery Regiment. He saw action in the 1965 war as a young officer in the Khem Karan, Lahore and Sialkot sectors with a self-propelled Artillery Regiment. He was awarded an Imtiazi Sanad (Certificate of Distinction) for gallantry. He later volunteered and served for seven years in the Special Service Group. He also participated in the 1971 war as company commander in a Commando Battalion.
Musharraf has had the privilege of commanding two self-propelled Artillery Regiments. As a brigadier, he had the distinction of commanding an Infantry Brigade as well as Armoured Division Artillery.
He has served on various important staff and instructional appointments during his career. These include deputy military secretary at the Military Secretary’s Branch, member of directing staff both at the Command and Staff College, Quetta and the National Defence College, Islamabad. He has also remained the director general military operations at the General Headquarters.
A graduate of Command and Staff College, Quetta and the National Defence College, Gen Musharraf also distinguished himself at the Royal College of Defence Studies in the United Kingdom. A comment from his performance report was: “A capable, articulate and extremely personable officer, who made a most valuable impact here. His country is fortunate to have the services of a man of his undeniable quality.”
General Musharraf was promoted to the rank of general on October 7, 1998 and appointed chief of army staff. He was given the additional charge of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee chairman on April 9, 1999 which he relinquished in October 2001. In a bloodless coup on October 12, 1999, the military ousted Nawaz Sharif as elected prime minister and Musharraf took over as the chief executive of Pakistan from October 12, 1999 to June 21, 2001 when he became president.
In March 2000, Musharraf replaced six judges of Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Saeed uz Zaman Siddiqi, for refusing to swear allegiance to his government.
On January 1, 2001, local elections were held in 18 of 106 administrative areas. The first elections since the coup, they were nonetheless criticised by the voters themselves because of the military’s involvement and the banning of political parties. Indeed, in March political leaders from the coalition Alliance for Restoration of Democracy were detained just prior to an anti-military rule rally. Later that month Musharraf announced he planned to extend his three-year term as army chief of staff beyond October 2001. However, under the law his term could only be extended by the president. Musharraf solved that problem in June 2001 by appointing himself the head of state.
The legislatures elected in 2002 general elections, elected Musharraf as president of the country in November 2002 for a five-year term that ended on November 15, 2007. However, he got himself elected from the same assemblies in a controversial presidential election for another five-year term on October 6, 2007.
Interestingly, General Musharraf staged second coup and imposed the state of emergency in the country and held the constitution in abeyance by issuing a Provisional Constitution Order as army chief on November 3, 2007, inviting criticism at home as well as abroad. Various lawyers and political leaders were arrested immediately after imposition of emergency.
In a televised address to the nation, he justified his action by holding the judiciary and media responsible for creating hurdles in his way. He accused the top court of the country of meddling in affairs of other state institutions.
The judges of high courts and Supreme Court were asked to take fresh oath under the Provisional Constitution Order. However, a very small number of incumbents either agreed to take fresh oath or were invited to be sworn-in.
The imposition of the state of emergency prompted the lawyers, politicians, students and civil society to take to streets. However, the government announced holding of general elections on January 8, 2008.
General Musharraf quit as the army chief on November 28, 2007 and handed over command to General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. He took oath as civilian president of the country on November 29, 2007.
President Musharraf has two children, Ayla and Bilal, and both are happily married. He has two granddaughters from Ayla and a grandson and a granddaughter from Bilal.