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Pervez Musharraf went from military leader to president of Pakistan after a bloodless coup in 1998.
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On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked by Middle Eastern terrorists trained in Afghanistan. The Taliban, a militant group that had recently taken control of Afghanistan, was harboring the alleged mastermind of the attacks, Osama bin Laden. Pakistan had been one of only a few countries to recognize the Taliban as the official leaders of Afghanistan. The United States sought Pervez Musharraf's support, promising more than $1 billion in aid to Pakistan and applying heavy pressure to break diplomatic ties with Afghanistan and join the "war on terror." With a weak economy, a still-tense relationship with India, and internal strife in his government, Musharraf agreed to give the United States access to three airbases to launch its attacks on the Taliban. Musharraf also helped oust the Taliban from his country. However, the move created tension with neighboring Afghanistan and alienated the Islamic fundamentalists within his own country. Musharraf has been the target of several assassination attempts since then.
Shortly after Musharraf's seizing of the government in 1999, several Pakistanis filed court petitions challenging his assumption of power. Musharraf had always claimed his intention was to institute democracy in Pakistan. But in the face of the threat from the court, he issued an order that required all judges to take new oaths of office and agree not to make any rulings against the military. Many judges resigned instead, calling the move unconstitutional. The Pakistani Supreme Court asked Musharraf to hold national elections by October 12, 2002. To ensure his continued control, Musharraf held a referendum on April 30, 2002, to extend his term of office another five years after the October elections. Musharraf's government claimed an 80 percent turnout in favor of the referendum, but election officials reported some irregularities—for which Musharraf apologized—and the decision to hold October elections stood.
In October 2002, national elections were held, and the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League won a plurality in the Parliament. But opposition parties and coalitions formed against Musharraf, and the Parliament was virtually paralyzed for over a year. In November 2003, Musharraf agreed to hand certain powers over to the newly elected Parliament. The National Assembly elected Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali as prime minister. In December, Musharraf made a deal with a coalition of six Islamic parties to leave the Army by the end of December 2004. In exchange, the Parliament passed the 17th Amendment, which retroactively legalized Musharraf's 1999 coup. But militant extremists continued to criticize his moderate policies at home. They often openly defied his directives until he brought in the army to quell the rebellions. In late 2004, he went back on his agreement to leave the Army, stating that the country was in too much turmoil for him to relinquish power, and pro-Musharraf legislators passed a bill allowing Musharraf to hold both the chief-of-Army and head-of-state positions.
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Political assassinations are an all-too-common occurrence, and they often become major landmark events. Luckily, many attempts to murder a political figure don't succeed, and a life is spared. Even those events, though, become important events in our history. In one of the most famous incidents, John Hinckley, Jr. tried to assassinate President Reagan in 1981.The president suffered a puntured lung, but survived the shooting. Here's a look at some of the most famous failed assassination attempts.
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