Despite what happened in failed coup of Turkey and what similarities or dissimilarities, for that matter, we have with regard to civil and military chasm of our own, the monsoon of 2016 has brought a dark cloud on the horizon for the Nawaz Government in Islamabad.

Reaction of both sides– PML-N and martial law apologists – to events in Turkey betrays what is cooking in twin cities for quite sometime now. While government side has come forward with rather loud congratulations to the people of Turkey who, they say, have saved democracy very bravely; apologists are giving it every possible spin ranging from “it was a mutiny and not a martial law attempt as army chief was not involved” through “Pakistan’s circumstances are different and people will not come out in the streets” to masterstroke by Imran Khan that “people will distribute sweets if army takes over the government here”.

It’s now an open secret that Nawaz government harbors a cloud of suspicion that someone somewhere is up to no good. Those who can pick up warning signals are feeling it in their gut though critics disagree.

Interestingly, the current situation bears a lot of similarities with that of 1999. Then, too, start was smooth but by the summer Kargil war made the government feel the heat and as the monsoon approached, government was put in a state of siege for months before the final blow that was made in October. Fast forward to 2016, the year started smoothly as everything wished had already been ceded. Then followed a statement in January and everything seemed all right. But that was not to be so. Panama leaks came — more like a godsend though — in the summer and the old patterns started having a repeat telecast. By now, when the monsoon is at its full glory, the government is at a virtual paralysis.

Isn’t it the vaulting ambition — as Macbeth describes to be the reason for his impending murder of King Duncan — that’s at play again dictating events in Islamabad as it once did in 1999, which was manifested in abundance by later events?

In his last stint too, Nawaz Sharif had established a dictatorship in the garb of democracy — he can’t help it. And today again he has concentrated all powers into his hands and is running the state with the help of a handful of close family and political aides, a bunch of loyal bureaucrats and the select of media groups and individuals. Parliament, cabinet, local bodies, his own party and parliamentarians; all can deteriorate. They are not his bet. They never were; not in 1999, not in 2016.

That explains his otherwise inexplicably long stay abroad, of about 40 days, ostensibly for what now is taken as a common medical procedure successfully done in hundreds in Pakistan daily with patients, normally, back to work in a week’s time. His media team may be partially true that doctors had advised him to stay that long but those doctors could not be from the medical field; that’s another thing if by doctors it means PhDs in Law and Finance with specialization in offshore companies especially when they somehow become public with lot of risks for the black money they hide. But if that was the whole purpose, Ishaq Dar could have been the answer. What is the missing bit here? Heart surgery… offshore companies… and… what? How about a “guarantee”? Yes, the same guarantee that saved his skin in 1999. He knows it well that it were not Javed Hashmi, Saad Rafique or Pervaiz Rasheed who saved him from Musharraf, vice versa would sound truer. It were not King Abdullah or Prince Hariri even, he knows that well too. It was the USA, it was the President Bill Clinton, then (as an interview of Bill Clinton on his last meeting with Nawaz Sharif sharing the options given to him on Kargil war with consequences of each option and the events recorded in the book of Shaukat Aziz suggest); and it is the USA and the President Barak Obama, now, whose guarantee he can rely on. Well, did he get that? From the “confidence” that he showed by ordering Boing-777 of PIA to be sent to London to bring him back with taxpayers’ money, it can be assumed he has got something if not a full-fledge “guarantee” as the factor of a war risking billions with nuclear holocaust is missing from the scene now and an additional factor of successful Operation Zarb-e-Azab is factoring in this time.

Three factors differentiate the current situation from the one prevailing by this time in 1999. One, and it goes against the Nawaz government, is that the reason for the 1999 coup was concocted one but the explanations of first family in the wake of Panama leaks don’t hold good, hence, in public eye, some kind of justification is there for his ouster. Two and three, both favor Nawaz government, are judiciary and media; both can prove to be unpredictable if martial law is attempted in 2016. The disgrace ordained for General Pervez Musharraf in his late years may also prove to be a little bit of the deterrence.

So being the wearer and knowing well where the shoe pinches, Nawaz Sharif came back after doing his homework. Then, came the turn of Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri to reach London and work for their own “guarantees”. Pakistan is not considered safe by both parties for that “sensitive” a task both were up to because both have fears of monitoring here, albeit by different agencies. So, the fate of the democratic rights of the 200 million Pakistanis has been sealed during covert meetings and secret talks in London. Regardless of the fact who actually staged all that, seditious banners inviting martial law had already been displayed in major cities before even the return of Imran-Qadri duo which is understandable owing to the very squeezed timespan. Was that a feeler or has that step backfired? All sort of analyses are selling good in the market. Should we be prepared, as a next step, for repeat of something like Model town incident — blood in the street?

Whatever the outcome of the impending clash, poverty-stricken people of Pakistan are not going to get back the trillions, looted and stashed through offshore companies abroad, that can best be used as an excuse to fulfilling ambitions but are never considered worthy to be returned to where they actually belong. One can only wish to be wrong in all that has been set down above.