Musharraf was born in Daryaganj in Delhi, India, but moved with his parents to Karachi, Pakistan during the partition of India (1947).
Both of his parents attended college; his mother’s major was English Literature. She worked for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and retired in 1986. Musharraf’s father, a graduate of the Aligarh University in India, served in the Pakistan foreign service and led a distinguished career. He retired as a Joint Secretary in the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan. Musharraf spent a part of his childhood in Turkey, while his father was a diplomat there, and speaks fluent Turkish.
Musharraf attended Karachi’s Saint Patrick’s High School, Karachi finishing high school in 1958, before going on to attend Forman Christian College in Lahore.
In 1961, he joined the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul. A graduate of the Command and Staff College, Quetta, and the National Defense College, Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf also distinguished himself at the Royal College of Defence Studies, United Kingdom. His supervisor, commenting on his performance remarked in his report: “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.”
He was commissioned in artillery regiment in 1964. He fought the 1965 war with India as a young officer and was awarded Imtiazi Sanad for gallantry. In 1967/68, he was promoted to Captain. He also achieved the Nishan-i-Imtiaz (military) and the Tamgha-i-Basalat. He has also been on the faculty of the Command and Staff College, Quetta and the war wing of the National Defence College, Pakistan. He volunteered to be a commando, and remained in the Special Service Group for seven years.
He also participated in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 as a Company Commander in the Commando Battalion. He has had the responsibility of commanding artillery regiments and an armored division. On promotion to the rank of Major General on January 15, 1991, he was given the command of an Infantry Division and later of a prestigious Strike Corps as Lieutenant General on October 21, 1995.
Musharraf has served on various important staff and instructional appointments during his career. He has also been the Director General Military Operations at the GHQ from 1993 to 1995. He rose to the rank of General and was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan on October 7, 1998 when Pakistan’s army chief, General Jehangir Karamat was forced to resign after calling for military representation in a National Security Council of Pakistan. He was given the additional office of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) on April 9, 1999.
On September 15, 2004, Musharraf backed down from his commitment to step down as Army Chief, citing circumstances of national necessity that he felt required him to keep both offices.
The Nawaz Sharif administration
In 1997, Nawaz Sharif was elected Prime Minister after his party, the Pakistan Muslim League, won the national elections with a large majority. Sharif’s party obtained enough seats in parliament to change the constitution, which he amended to eliminate the formal checks and balances that restrained the Prime Minister’s power. The Prime Minister defeated challenges to his growing power, led by President Farooq Leghari and Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, both of whom were forced to resign – the Chief Justice did so after the Supreme Court was stormed by Sharif partisans. After military chief Jehangir Karamat proposed the creation of a National Security Council to serve as a forum for interaction between top civilian leaders and the chiefs of the armed services, he too was dismissed by Nawaz Sharif, and Musharraf was appointed in his place.
On 12 October 1999, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered Musharraf’s dismissal and replacement by a family loyalist, ISI director Khwaja Ziauddin. Musharraf, who was out of the country, was returning to Pakistan on a commercial airliner. Senior Army generals refused to accept Musharraf’s dismissal. Sharif ordered the Karachi airport closed to block the landing of the airliner, which then circled the skies over Karachi. In a coup, the generals ousted Sharif’s administration and took over the airport. The plane landed with only a few minutes of fuel to spare, and Musharraf assumed control of the government. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was put under house arrest and later exiled. The existing President of Pakistan, Rafiq Tarar, remained in office until June 2001. Musharraf formally became President on June 20, 2001, just days before his scheduled visit for the Agra Talks with India.
Supreme Court orders elections. National referendum extends Musharraf’s presidency to 2007.
On May 12, 2000 the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered Musharraf to hold general elections by October 12, 2002. This posed a legal problem for Musharraf: after the restoration of democracy, he could be charged with the capital offense of overthrowing the government. For the purpose of defending against such a charge, and to assure the continuity of his presidency, Musharraf exercised his presidential prerogative and held a referendum on April 30, 2002, asking voters to approve an extension of his presidential term to a period ending five years after the October elections. He won the referendum, despite a boycott by anti-Musharraf political parties, which disputed the results and the voter-turnout statistics. At the time, independent polls put Musharraf’s approval rating at 55% to 67%, and political analysts felt that if voter turnout was lower than expected, it had been affected by apathy rather than opposition to Musharraf. However, his opponents refused to accept the results, and stridently denied the legitimacy of his presidency until he was elected as President twenty months later, on January 1, 2004.
General elections were held in October, 2002 and a pro-Musharraf party, the PML-Q, won a plurality of the seats in the Parliament. However, parties opposed to Musharraf effectively paralyzed the National Assembly for over a year. The deadlock ended in December 2003, when Musharraf made a deal with the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal party. With that party’s support, pro-Musharraf legislators were able to muster the two-thirds supermajority required to pass the Seventeenth Amendment, which retroactively legalized Musharraf’s 1999 coup and many of his subsequent decrees.
Electoral College victory
In a vote of confidence on January 1, 2004, Musharraf won 658 out of 1,170 votes in the Electoral College of Pakistan, and according to Article 41(8) of the Constitution of Pakistan, was “deemed to be elected” to the office of President until October 2007.
Controversy over being both President and military head
A pro-Musharraf party, the PML-Q, won a plurality in the elections of October 2002, and formed a majority coalition with independents and allies such as the MQM. Nevertheless, the opposition parties effectively deadlocked the National Assembly, refusing to accept Musharraf’s presidency and his Legal Framework Order. In December 2003, as part of a compromise with the main Islamist opposition group, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, (MMA) General Musharraf said he would step down as Army Chief by January 1, 2005. In return, the MMA agreed to support a constitutional amendment that would retroactively legalize Musharraf’s coup, and restore some formal checks and balances to Pakistan’s system of government.
In late 2004, however, pro-Musharraf legislators passed a bill allowing Musharraf to keep both offices, and Musharraf announced that he intended to hold on to both.
Views and perceptions of Musharraf
General Pervez Musharraf, President and Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, addressing the UN General Assembly on November 10, 2001
Musharraf is considered a moderate leader by Western governments. Many believe that Musharraf is sincere in his desire to bridge the Islamic and the Western worlds, and has previously spoken strongly against the idea of the inevitability of a ‘clash of civilisations’ between them. Musharraf’s emotional ties to the United States may be conjectured to be significant since at least two close members of his family live there: his brother, a doctor, lives in Chicago, and his son lives in Boston. His son has a Bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and works for a benefits-consulting firm in Boston. Musharraf’s only other child, a daughter, is a graduate of the National Council of Arts in Lahore and is an architect. Musharraf’s elder brother, who was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and a Civil Service officer in the Government of Pakistan, and also worked at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome before retiring.
Musharraf’s views considered relatively liberal
Musharraf was raised in a family that is considered liberal by Pakistani standards. Unsequestered and unveiled, the women of the family are and seen and photographed in public. His mother worked for the ILO and was friends with well-known Pakistani liberals. His daughter is an architect.
Shortly after coming to power, and on numerous occasions afterwards, Musharraf expressed admiration for the secularist reformer of Turkey, Kemal Atatürk, outraging religious anti-secularists in the country.
Musharraf has been open to making economic reforms and to modernize Pakistan. He is considered to be a modern, British-style officer – liberal views were very common among the officers of the Pakistan army before Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s rule, who often trained in the United States.
Musharraf with United States President George W. Bush
Since his involvement as a senior officer of Pakistan’s special forces during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Musharraf has had excellent personal relations with several sections of the US security establishment. Following his coup in 1999, US President Bill Clinton called Musharraf to express his concern  about the coup and his desire for stability in South Asia. Instead of returning President Clinton’s call ,Musharraf called General Anthony C. Zinni, then head of CENTCOM. Addressing him as “Tony”, Musharraf explained his reasons and intentions, and General Zinni defended Musharraf in the media.
Following the September 11, 2001 Attacks Musharraf has worked closely with President of the United States George W. Bush in the “War on Terror”, causing discontent, for various reasons, among some sections of the Pakistani population.
Shortly after the events of 9/11, Musharraf gave a watershed speech  on Pakistan Television in which he pledged his and Pakistan’s support to the United States in its war on terrorism. Though the rise Taliban was largely an independent phenomenon, there exists an impression that the Taliban regime is a product of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency of Pakistan. After the Taliban had come to power in Afghanistan, Pakistan did maintain friendly relations with it, as it seemed to be war-torn Afghanistan’s best hope for stability. Stability in Afghanistan would allow the establishment of trade with Central Asian countries, and also reduce the number of refugees pouring into Pakistan from Afghanistan. To casual outside observers, the new policy seemed to be a sudden 180-degree turn from the old one and Musharraf’s support of Operation Enduring Freedom was judged to be an indicator of Musharraf’s sincerity by analysts at think tanks like the Brookings Institute.
After Musharraf’s swift and strategically sound decision to cease Pakistan’s support of the Taliban, Pakistan cut the Taliban’s oil and supply lines, provided intelligence and acted as a logistics support area for Operation Enduring Freedom. Analysts said that Pakistani support for the USA was indispensable in defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Musharraf speaks fluent English and has given many interviews and speeches on various US and European TV channels and other media. He has spoken at a number of think tanks, for example, the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, California, in June 2003. Right-wing Islamic parties in Pakistan have expreesed opposition to his support for the US-led war on terror. After the US invaded Iraq without a UN resolution, the surveys showed a decline in international public approval for its actions. Musharraf has bluntly refused to send any Pakistani troops to Iraq without a UN resolution.
Popularity in Pakistan
A widely-quoted Pew Center poll says of Musharraf:
Pakistanis expressed highly favorable opinions of their president; 86% rate him favorably, and 60% view him very favorably, by far the highest rating of any leader in the survey.
Several other independent polls, including polls by well-known organizations such as Gallup and the BBC, have also indicated that Musharraf has the support of a majority of the Pakistanis surveyed.
On December 14, 2003, General Musharraf survived an assassination attempt when a powerful bomb went off minutes after his highly-guarded convoy crossed a bridge in Rawalpindi. It was the third such attempt during his four-year rule. 11 days later, on December 25, 2003, two suicide bombers tried to assassinate Musharraf, but their car bombs failed to kill the president; 16 others nearby died instead. Musharraf escaped with only a cracked windshield on his car. It was suspected that the attacks were carried out by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists – al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri had publicly called for his assassination. It has been reported that Amjad Hussain Farooqi is suspected of being the mastermind behind these attempts, and there has been an extensive manhunt for him.
Elections during Musharraf’s administration
On 12 May 2000, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered Musharraf to hold national elections by 12 October 2002, Elections for local governments took place in 2001. Elections for the national and provincial legislatures were held in October 2002, with no party winning a majority. In November 2002, Musharraf handed over certain powers to the newly elected Parliament. The National Assembly elected Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali as Prime Minister of Pakistan, who in turn appointed his own cabinet.
The General;Pervez Musharraf
On January 1, 2004 Musharraf won a confidence vote in the Electoral College of Pakistan, consisting of both houses of Parliament and the four provincial assemblies. Musharraf received 658 out of 1170 votes, a 56% majority, but many opposition and Islamic members of parliament walked out to protest the vote. As a result of this vote, according to Article 41(8) of the Constitution of Pakistan, Musharraf was “deemed to be elected” to the office of President. His term now extends to 2007. While Musharraf’s 2002 referendum on his rule had been heavily criticized and dismissed by critics, his electoral-college victory has received much greater acceptance within and outside Pakistan.
Prime Minister Jamali resigned on 26 June 2004, and in his place the National Assembly elected Shaukat Aziz, a former Vice President of Citibank and head of Citibank Private Banking. The new government was mostly supportive of Musharraf, who remained President and Head of State in the new government. Musharraf continues to be the active executive of Pakistan, especially in foreign affairs.
After the disclosure of nuclear proliferation by Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, known as the father of Pakistan’s bomb, Musharraf denied knowledge of or participation by Pakistan’s government or army in this proliferation. Dr. Khan a national hero, was arrested, despite domestic criticism. Musharraf continues to enjoy the strong support of the White House and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. A.Q. Khan has been pardoned in exchange for cooperation in the investigation of his nuclear-proliferation network.
Peace overtures with India
Musharraf was Chief of Army Staff at the time of Pakistani incursions into the Indian-held disputed territory of Kashmir (Kargil sector), in the summer of 1999. Pakistani forces were ordered to retreat, some sources say, after huge pressure on the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from the American President, who feared the conflict could turn into a nuclear catastrophe. However, a book co-authored by ex-CENTCOM Commander in Chief, Anthony Zinni asserts that Musharraf was the voice of moderation who persuaded Sharif to withdraw.
In the middle of 2004, Musharraf began a series of talks with India to solve the Kashmir dispute. Both India and Pakistan have the tactical capability to launch nuclear strikes on every major city within each others’ borders. The two countries are continuing to aggressively increase their nuclear capabilities by producing more nuclear weapons, and improving their missile technologies by routinely conducting tests of ever more sophisticated missiles.
Musharraf said he would prefer some kind of “international guarantees” for implementation of any pact reached with India on the Kashmir issue, which he wants to be settled in a year’s time. In July of 2005, he started another wave of crackdown of people perceived to be extremists within the country.