Gen. Pervez Musharraf has faced down many an adversary during his long military and political career. When then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif fired Musharraf from his post as joint chiefs of staff chairman 1999, he responded by leading the coup that toppled Sharif from power.
He quickly took bold steps on the economy and foreign policy. He imposed new tax codes and cracked down on money-laundering schemes. Musharraf also withdrew troops from the border with India and launched new efforts to ease tensions with the neighboring rival.
Some facts about Musharraf:
» Musharraf was born August 11, 1943, in New Delhi, India, and moved to Karachi when India won independence and the state of Pakistan was created. During his father's diplomatic service, Musharraf and his family lived in Turkey from 1949-1956. Musharraf attended Saint Patrick's High School in Karachi and Lahore's Forman Christian College.
» In 1961, Musharraf joined the Pakistan Military Academy and saw his first active duty in 1965. Musharraf moved up the ranks and was made a major general in 1991 and a lieutenant general in 1995. His career took off in 1998, when he was named the army's chief of staff and six months later chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.
» The international community slapped economic sanctions on both Pakistan and India after they tested nuclear devices in May 1998, raising fears of a dangerous nuclear arms race in the region.
» Musharraf was quick to condemn the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States — a weighty gesture for the head of a largely Muslim nation where anti-American sentiment often runs high. He called them "heinous acts" and urged the international community to "unite and resolutely fight this evil in all its forms."
» Supporting the U.S. in its campaign against terrorism has been risky for Musharraf. Violent anti-American protests erupted in some Pakistani cities. In response, Musharraf detained some of the country's leading pro-Taliban Muslim clerics. And he is struggling to control the power of fundamentalist religious parties and rein in what some call the "Talibanization" of Pakistani society.
» Pakistan's pro-U.S. stand has brought immediate and tangible benefits from abroad. Sanctions have been lifted, some of Pakistan's foreign debt has been rescheduled and Western diplomats have streamed to Pakistan to show appreciation for Musharraf's support.