Funeral prayers being held for Musharraf in Karachi on Tuesday. Image Credit: ISPR

Karachi: Thousands of people, including senior officials of the armed forces, attended funeral prayers for the former military ruler of Pakistan General (retired) Pervez Musharraf in Karachi on Tuesday afternoon.

Musharraf, who fled Pakistan in 2016 after a travel ban on him was lifted, died on Sunday aged 79 in Dubai, having suffered a long illness.

The funeral prayers were held at Golmohar Polo Ground in the Malir Cantonment area of the city after the Zuhr prayers. The body of Musharraf was brought to the venue with full military honours.

A contingent of troops presented the guard of honour after receiving his body. On Monday night, a special plane brought the body of Musharraf from Dubai.

Musharraf served as the chief of army staff from 1998 to 2007. Musharraf came into power as a result of a bloodless coup on October 12, 1999, after overthrowing the then government of Nawaz Sharif. Troops from Malir Garrison were mobolised to seize control of Karachi Airport to ensure that the plane of Pervez Musharraf from Colombo safely landed at Karachi Airport on the night of the coup.

Army vehicles escort an ambulance carrying the body of Pakistan's former President Pervez Musharraf ahead of his funeral in Karachi, Pakistan February 7, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

It was reported that the then civilian government endangered the life of Musharraf by denying permission for his plane to safely land at Karachi Airport as the dramatic events in the evening 24 years back led to the last military coup in the history of Pakistan.

Musharraf later served as president of the country from 2001 to 2008.

Meanwhile, elaborate security arrangements were in place in the Malir Garrison area for Musharraf’s funeral. A large number of in-service armed forces officers and personnel attended the funeral.

Those who attended the funeral were not allowed to take with them mobile phones. A large number of troops were deployed to guard the venue and control vehicular traffic.

A plane from Pakistan Army aviation also conducted aerial surveillance of the venue.

People attending the funeral. Image Credit: AFP

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Lt General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, and former chief of army staff, General (retired) Qamar Javed Bajwa, were two of the most prominent names who attended the funeral.

Other dignitaries who were present included Federal Maritime Affairs Minister, Faisal Sabzwari, Adviser to Prime Minister on Political and Public Affairs, Engineer Amir Muqam, former Sindh Governor, Imran Ismail, former Governor of State Bank of Pakistan, Dr Ishrat Hussain, former State Minister Azfar Ahsan, former chief of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, Tariq Ikram, former Federal Information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, former Karachi mayor Syed Mustafa Kamal, former special assistant to PM Mahmood Moulvi, politicians Dr Farooq Sattar, Shaharyar Khan Mahar, and Jawed Hanif.

Full miliary protocol

Later, the body of Musharraf was taken to the old Army Graveyard in Karachi for burial with full military protocol.

Many politicians and people from different walks of life praised the services of Pervez Musharraf during his regime to develop many sectors of Pakistan including IT, higher education, media, the banking sector, and civic infrastructure in cities.

Howvever, Khurram Dastagir, federal minister and a central leader of the governing PMLN party, said Tuesday that Pakistan should “forgive but not forget”.

“He plunged Pakistan into a war on terror, crushed the rights of people in Balochistan,” he told local television channel Geo News.

“The constitution and judiciary of Pakistan were crushed... his role in tortures and detentions... it is a very terrible and sad legacy that Pervez Musharraf has left and we should not forget it.”

Musharraf had been suffering from a rare disease known as amyloidosis and last summer his family said he had no prospect of recovery.

— With inputs from AFP