Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan who ruled the country during a time of turmoil in the Middle East, has died at the age of 79, the Pakistani military said Sunday.
In a statement sent to CNN, military officials expressed their "heartfelt condolences" on the "sad demise of General Pervez Musharraf," adding that he had passed away in Dubai after battling an ongoing illness.
Pakistan President Arif Alvi also sent his condolences to Musharraf's family, along with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Musharraf first came to power as a military leader following a bloodless coup in 1999. He would become Pakistan's president in 2001 and serve until 2008. While president, he would preside over a period of transitional changes in Pakistan, with BBC News noting that the socially liberal Musharraf "was credited by some with turning around the economic fortunes of the country while leader."
Fawad Chaudhury, a former aide of Musharraf, said that "[Musharraf] is called a military dictator, but there has never been a stronger democratic system than that under him" in a statement obtained by Reuters.
In the West, however, Musharraf is most widely known for his strategic alliance with the United States following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Musharraf pledged to support the U.S. during the war on terror, providing material assistance and a pathway for NATO supplies during the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The alliance forged between the U.S. and Pakistan would eventually pay off when an American raid in 2011 killed the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, who had gone into hiding in Pakistan.
Musharraf would eventually be ousted from power and exiled from Pakistan, and was eventually put on trial for treason and even sentenced to death in an overturned sentence.