Musharraf, Pervez 1943–

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Musharraf, Pervez 1943–


Born August 11, 1943, in New Delhi, India; son of Syed (a diplomat) and Begum Zarrin (a labor activist) Musharraf; married December 29, 1968; wife's name Sehba; children: Bilal (son), Ayla (daughter). Education: Attended Pakistan Military Academy, 1961-64. Hobbies and other interests: Squash, badminton, golf, sailing, playing bridge, reading.


Home— Pakistan.


Military officer and politician. Joined Pakistani Army, 1964, served in Special Services Group, 1971, also commanded infantry division and strike corps, became lieutenant general, promoted to general and army chief, 1998, staged coup and took over as leader of Pakistan, 1999, president, 2001—. Also taught at Command and Staff College, Quetta, Pakistan, and at the National Defense College.


Imitiazi Sanad for gallantry.


In the Line of Fire: A Memoir, Free Press (New York, NY), 2006, published as Sab Se Pahle Päkistän, Feroz Sanz (Lahaur, Pakistan), 2006.

Sab se pahle kaun?: Janral Parvez Musharraf kiapbti naqd o nazar ke aine men, Darulkitab (Lahaur, Pakistan), 2006.


Pervez Musharraf became the president of Pakistan in 2001, following a military coup he engineered in October, 1999, ostensibly to stabilize a highly volatile country that had nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, a number of countries opposed Musharraf's seizure of a democratic government, including the United States. Then U.S. President Bill Clinton announced in January, 2000, that Pakistan could be placed on a list of nations that supported terrorism and might lose America's financial support. This announcement was made, in part, because the Clinton administration thought that the Pakistani military has supported a terrorist group that had hijacked an Indian jetliner in December, 1999.

Despite the suspicions concerning Pakistan's ties to terrorism, many people in the Islamic fundamentalist community, including terrorist groups, opposed Musharraf. His problems with the fundamentalists and terrorists only grew after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Following these attacks, Musharraf declared Pakistan an ally of the United States and began to cooperate with America's "War on Terror" by engaging the Pakistani military in locating and capturing suspected terrorists. A contributor to the Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations: World Leaders noted: "After throwing his support behind the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Musharraf cracked down on domestic Islamic extremist parties in Pakistan. He banned two of the most radical such groups and arrested hundreds of activists. While such heavy-handed political oppression normally attracts international protests, Western governments applauded the moves as long overdue, as did Pakistan's historic enemy, India. Many moderate middle-class Pakistanis also saw the moves as positive, as they felt increasingly marginalized by a country that has for years been sliding into Islamic radicalism."

In an interview in an advertising supplement for Pakistan in the New York Times, Musharraf stated that "governing any developing country is very difficult." He went on to say that the "government has to satisfy the population and, since its resources are constrained, satisfying the population through economic growth and economic well being and prosperity is difficult to achieve. In Pakistan, the situation has been more complicated because of all that has been happening in our neighborhood. In Afghanistan, to the west, for almost twenty-five years there was the fighting against the Soviets, then internecine warfare among themselves and the Taliban factor, then 9/11 and all that followed." Also pointing to problems in Kashmir, where Pakistan and India have had a long-standing territorial dispute, Musharraf went on to note: "All this led to sectarian and religious extremism here."

Musharraf, who has survived three assassination attempts, tells his own life story in In the Line of Fire: A Memoir. Writing in the Washington Monthly, Nicholas Schmidle commented: " In the Line of Fire(a nod perhaps to the title of a Clint Eastwood film of the same name), presents Musharraf as an Eastwoodesque character—someone who shoots from the hip, talks tough, and is willing to take a bullet for a friend." Writing in the same vein,New Statesman contributor Ziauddin Sardar related: "A good story needs a string of nefarious villains, and Musharraf meets all kinds—the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, a belligerent India, terrorists of all shades, and a series of jealous officers from his own army determined to thwart his progress and bring him down."

In his memoir, Musharraf provides readers with a view of his childhood and army career. He writes about the bloodless coup, which the author refers to as a "counter coup," and his subsequent role as leader of Pakistan, with an emphasis on his own personal vision for the country. He begins his book by writing about the first two assassination attempts on his life and goes on to recall numerous other times he nearly escaped death during his career, such as the time he fortunately missed a helicopter ride that was to take him to a bridge game; the helicopter crashed.

Musharraf writes about his family's heritage, claiming that his father's lineage can be traced back to the Prophet Muhammad. He tells of his family's early days in Delhi, India, where he was born, and their subsequent migration to Karachi and then Turkey, where Musharraf developed an interest in shooting and dogs. As for his role in the military and subsequent rule of Pakistan, Musharraf presents his version of his controversial role in the Kargil conflict of 1999. Although the incident involved a brief clash of Pakistani and Indian troops and almost led to a full-fledged war with India, the author states that it was a catalyst to subsequent important peace talks between the two countries. Musharraf also examines the case of A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist who admitted to sharing Pakistan's nuclear technology with various countries. In an interview on the President of Pakistan Web site, Musharraf noted that the most embarrassing moment of his life was "discovering the involvement of Dr. A.Q. Khan in the nuclear proliferation scandal."

Discussing his impact on Pakistan, Musharraf points to what he considers vast economic and political reforms. "These include a messy, but promising, effort to devolve power to the local level, and the creation of elected councils with fixed quotas for women representatives," noted a contributor to the Economist. "There are also quotas for women in provincial and national assemblies. General Musharraf has given a boost to female emancipation in Pakistan, although the full impact of the changes he has introduced will not be felt soon." Of major interest to U.S. readers and many others is the author's ruminations on his country's alliance with the United States in its battle against terrorists. He reveals information about several operations that focused on capturing al-Qa'eda terrorists and also discusses the group's leader Osama bin Laden.

Writing about In the Line of Fire in the Economist, a contributor noted: "Most interesting are the details of events leading to the arrest in Pakistan of several top terrorists, including Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the attacks on the twin towers, and other al-Qaeda members." L. Carl Brown concluded in Foreign Affairs: "As with any memoir by a public figure, especially one still in power, this is more an apologia than a rounded history, but it is an especially good example of the genre."



Encyclopedia of World Biography Supplement, Volume 22, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.

History behind the Headlines: The Origins of Conflicts Worldwide, Volume 3, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Musharraf, Pervez,In the Line of Fire: A Memoir, Free Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Newsmakers, Issue 2, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000.

Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations: World Leaders, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2003.


Biography, winter, 2007, Paula Newberg, review of In the Line of Fire, p. 148.

Economist, October 7, 2006, "Military Misjudgment; General Pervez Musharraf," review of In the Line of Fire, p. 90.

Far Eastern Economic Review, November, 2006, Sadanand Dhume, review of In the Line of Fire, p. 63.

Foreign Affairs, March 1, 2007, L. Carl Brown, review of In the Line of Fire, p. 180.

London Review of Books, January 4, 2007, Tariq Ali, "The General in His Labyrinth," review of In the Line of Fire, p. 21.

New Statesman, November 6, 2006, Ziauddin Sardar, "Holding Out for a Hero," review of In the Line of Fire, p. 56.

New York Times(advertising supplement), September 29, 2007, "Interview: President Pervez Musharraf."

Spectator, October 21, 2006, Justin Marozzi, "Getting to Know the General."

Times Higher Education Supplement, April 27, 2007, Radhakrishnan Nayer, "One-Time Doughty Ally at Odds with His Friend in the West," review of In the Line of Fire, p. 26.

Times Literary Supplement, December 22, 2006, Ian Talbot, "Bomb Holes," review of In the Line of Fire, p. 14.

Washington Monthly, January 1, 2007, Nicholas Schmidle, "Getting to Know the General: In His Memoir, Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf Reflects on What a Swell Guy He Is," p. 54.

Washington Post Book World, October 15, 2006, Pamela Talbot, "The General in His Labyrinth: Pakistan's Military Ruler Depicts Himself Defying India, Hunting Al-Qaeda and Fighting Fundamentalism," p. 4.

ONLINE, (November 3, 2007), biography of Pervez Musharraf.

Dictator of the Month, (November 3, 2007), biography of Pervez Musharraf.

NNDB, (November 3, 2007), biographical information on Pervez Musharraf.

President of Pakistan Web site, (November 3, 2007), interview with and official biography of Pervez Musharraf.

Story of Pakistan, (November 3, 2007), biography of Pervez Musharraf.

Time Online, (September 25, 2005), "10 Questions for Pervez Musharraf."


Press Conferences, Directorate General of Films and Publications (Islamabad, Pakistan), 2000.