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Five facts about Pervez Musharraf

Eight years after he seized power in a bloodless coup, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf looks set to cruise to re-election despite protests.

world Updated: Oct 03, 2007 20:49 IST

Eight years after he seized power in a bloodless coup, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf looks set to cruise to re-election on Saturday as the two-chamber parliament and four provincial assemblies cast their votes, despite calls for him to be barred from running.

Here are five facts about Pervez Musharraf, whose five-year term as president expires in November:

* The second of three brothers, Musharraf was born into a middle class Muslim family in India in August 1943. His family moved to the newly created majority-Muslim state of Pakistan following India's independence and partition in 1947. He spent seven years in Turkey, during his civil servant father's posting to Ankara. In 1956 the family settled in Karachi, where Musharraf attended Roman Catholic and other Christian schools.

* Entering the Pakistan Military Academy in 1961, the keen sportsman and career military man first saw action as a young officer in the 1965 war against India, which saw him decorated for gallantry. Marrying in 1968, he endured the army's humiliating defeat by India in the 1971 war and served voluntarily for seven years in Pakistan's special service commandos group.

* Promoted to the rank of general and named army chief in October, 1998, Musharraf seized power from then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999 in a bloodless coup. He first led the country as chief executive and then won a five-year presidential term in a 2002 referendum critics say was rigged.

* One of President George W. Bush's most important non-NATO allies in Washington's war on terrorism, supporters paint Musharraf as a strong leader who can save Pakistan's moderate Muslim majority from militant, religious extremism seeping into

cities from tribal areas along the northwest frontier. However a bloody army assault on Islamabad's Red Mosque in July, during which 102 people were killed, led to a rise in attacks by Islamist militants that have killed several hundred people.

* A failed attempt to sack Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in March created a judicial and political crisis. Musharraf's popularity slumped and the Supreme Court reinstated Chaudhry. With exiled ex-leaders Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif threatening to return, Musharraf has made some pre-election concessions -- dropping long-standing graft charges against Bhutto, and designating a successor to take over as army chief so he can finally shed his uniform and be sworn in as a civilian president by November 15.

Source: Reuters, Presidential Web site (www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk/Biography.aspx)