Pervez Musharraf saw himself as the saviour of his country and said that he had ousted the elected government in response to decades of inept and corrupt civilian and military rule that had left Pakistan on the brink of bankruptcy.
The career army officer was initially popular with Pakistan’s people when he seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, overthrowing then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The al Qaeda attacks of September 11 2001 brought Musharraf into the front line of the war against terror. Abandoning support for the Taliban government in Afghanistan, he became a staunch US ally which made him unpopular with many Pakistanis.
Musharraf’s opponents said he had become autocratic and the legal community, as well as human rights activists, took to the streets after he tried to force Pakistan’s Supreme Court Chief JusticeIftikhar Chaudhry to resign.
The decision to allow Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to return from exile also helped seal Musharraf’s fate. She was killed but her political party, led by her widower, won the parliamentary election in February and forged an alliance with Sharif. That completed Musharraf’s isolation and started the impeachment proceedings that resulted in his resignation.