After rose to the rank of Chief General. As Army Chief of Staff, he seized power in a bloodless military coup d'état on October 12, 1999, placing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif under house arrest. He formally became President of Pakistan on June 20, 2001.
Musharraf is considered a moderate leader by Western governments because he is willing to deal with the West. He has been open to making economic reforms and to modernize Pakistan. He is considered to be secular, and his rise to power was marked by a widespread purge of Islamist elements within the military and security forces.
On December 14, 2003, General Musharraf survived an assassination attempt when a powerful bomb went off minutes after his highly-guarded convoy crossed a bridge in Rawalpindi. It was the third such attempt during his 4 year rule.
11 days later, on December 25, 2003, two suicide bombers tried to assassinate Musharraf, but their car bombs failed to kill the President; 16 others nearby died instead. Musharraf escaped with only a cracked windshield on his car.
In November of 2002, much of the existing military government apparatus was dismantled, and Musharraf agreed to hand over certain powers to a newly elected parliament. Musharraf stepped down as Prime Minister and the legislature elected Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali in his place, who in turn appointed his own cabinet. The new government were mostly loyal to Musharaff, who remained President and Head of State in the new government. Musharaff continues to be the active executive of Pakistan, especially in foriegn affairs.
On January 1, 2004 Musharraf won confidence votes in both houses of parliament and in Pakistan's four provincial assemblies. Musharraf received a majority of vote in all, but many opposition and Islamic members of parliament walked out to protest the vote. With the motion passed, Musharraf was "deemed to be elected" thus further legitimizing the President's rule. His term now extends to 2007.