Family: Former Pakistan military ruler Musharraf gravely ill

Musharraf has been hospitalised for three weeks and family have asked for prayers for his health.

Pakistan’s former military strongman Pervez Musharraf is gravely ill in Dubai, his office has said, warning that the 78-year-old was unlikely to recover.

Musharraf has been hospitalised for three weeks “due to a complication of his ailment”, a message on his official Twitter page said on Friday, sourcing the information to the general’s family.

“Going through a difficult stage where recovery is not possible and organs are malfunctioning. Pray for ease in his daily living,” the family said in the message, while also denying local media reports in Pakistan that he was on a ventilator.

Musharraf seized power in 1999 in a bloodless coup after the then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tried to dismiss him as army chief, having appointed him above more senior officers a year earlier.

The four-star general was governing Pakistan as a “chief executive” when the 9/11 attacks on the United States took place.

Musharraf swiftly aligned with Washington during its military intervention in neighbouring Afghanistan, and under his rule, Pakistan became a key ally of the US.

He approved NATO’s transport of military equipment to landlocked Afghanistan through Pakistan and for the US to use Pakistan’s air bases for logistic support.

In more than seven years in office, he oversaw a stint of economic growth while dodging at least three assassination attempts.

He won a five-year term as president in a 2002 referendum, but reneged on promises to quit as army chief until late 2007. His easy-going charm also failed to mask the blurring of the division between the state and military in Pakistan, and he fell out of favour after trying to sack the chief justice.

After the December 2007 assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, the national mood soured even more and the crushing losses suffered by his allies in 2008 elections left Musharraf isolated politically.

A plan to return to power in 2013 was dashed when he was disqualified from running in an election won by Nawaz Sharif – the man he deposed in 1999.

Musharraf has been living in the United Arab Emirates since 2016, when a travel ban was lifted and he was allowed travel to Dubai to seek medical treatment.

Three years later, he was sentenced to death in absentia for treason, related to his 2007 decision to impose emergency rule. However, a court later nullified the ruling.

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