Pakistan's former President Musharraf buried in Karachi

KARACHI (Reuters) - Pakistani former President Pervez Musharraf, a key U.S. ally in the campaign against al Qaeda following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, was buried in his hometown of Karachi on Tuesday.

Musharraf, a former four-star general who seized power after a 1999 military coup, died on Sunday in hospital in Dubai, where he had been living in self-imposed exile since 2016, after suffering a rare organ disease. He was 79.

The funeral was held at Malir Cantonment's Polo Ground, a day after a special plane transported his body to his hometown. He was buried at the Army Graveyard in Karachi.

Musharraf was a controversial figure in Pakistan, which he ruled for a decade.

He was credited with attracting foreign investment to Pakistan, which saw the strongest economic growth in nearly 30 years during his rule, and enjoyed the support of the military and Pakistanis who backed his crackdown against militant groups.

But Musharraf was also renowned for his heavy-handed approach to dissent, which included arresting rivals such as current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the imposing of an almost six-week long state of emergency in which he suspended the constitution and censored the media.

After the 9/11 attacks, Musharraf joined what Washington called its war on terror, giving U.S. forces ground and air access into landlocked Afghanistan to chase down al Qaeda militants.

This decision contradicted Pakistan's long-standing support for the Taliban, who still controlled Afghanistan until their ouster in late 2001, and made Musharraf a target for domestic militant groups. He survived at least four assassination attempts.

Musharraf was buried with military protocol at a funeral attended by serving and former army officers, including former army chiefs Qamar Javed Bajwa and Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, and members of the Karachi-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) political party.

Prime Minister Sharif, the president and the army chief did not attend.

(Reporting by Akhtar Soomro in Karachi and Gibran Peshimam in Islamabad; writing by Miral Fahmy; editing by Nick Macfie)