LAHORE - The PML-N is not organising any function today to mark October 12, the day when General Pervez Musharraf toppled Nawaz Sharif’s government in 1999.

The party is busy in its by-election campaign otherwise wounds of October 12 are as fresh today as they were in the past, said PML-N leader Pervez Malik.

On October 12, 1999, the fourth military coup took place in the country as a result of a rift between the civil government and the establishment.

As a result, the then army chief Pervez Musharraf became chief executive and Nawaz Sharif was put behind the bars on charges of hijacking a commercial flight, which was carrying Musharraf and others home from Sri Lanka.

The then Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif was also taken into custody. The Sharifs were later jailed and their property confiscated when the court convicted them of forcing the flight to land in India. A movement by the PML-N ensued. Late Kulsoom Nawaz led the movement at that time as acting president of the party. After serving 14 months in jail, the Sharifs went into exile to Saudi Arabia on December 10, 2000. Until they returned home in November 2007, the country was ruled by Musharraf who in 2001 assumed the office of president after a referendum.

Musharraf’s position as president became stronger after the US acknowledged his role in the ‘war on terror’ after the 9/11 attacks.

Democracy returned to the country after 2008 general elections but after paying a heavy price in the form of assassination of PPP chairperson and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in a terror attack.

Since 2008, the PPP and PML-N each enjoyed five-year term in power, maintaining sweet and bitter relations. Today both parties are underdogs and the PTI is in power. Both PML-N and PPP accuse the PTI of winning the last general elections with the help of ‘aliens’.

Coming through many economic and political highs and lows since October 12, 1999, the country at present is grappling with serious challenges on all fronts. The PML-N is again in the situation, which it faced 19 years ago. It is no more in power and party leaders Nawaz and Shehbaz are facing cases. Shehbaz is in NAB custody and Nawaz is free after serving two months in jail.

The ordeal of Sharifs this time appears severer than the past as NAB cases have not only hit the Sharif brothers, but also their next generation, Maryam Nawaz, and her spouse Safdar. Maryam and Safdar too served jail before the IHC suspended their sentence.

Two more references against Nawaz are being heard. NAB is doing an investigation into the corruption charges against Sharif involving Ashiyana housing scheme and Saaf Paani project.

Today the PPP and PML-N are closing ranks on vote rigging charges against an elected government as they did 19 years ago against the rule of a military dictator.  The most interesting character in this story is Pervez Musharraf who has been out of the country. Musharraf became target of the PML-N wrath when it came to power after the 2013 elections.  Through high court, the PML-N government sought punishment for Musharraf in a high treason case for his November 2007 PCO and emergency. At present, the court is seeking appearance of Musharraf, who says he is ill and unable to travel back.  Money laundering charges against PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari are also being investigated. Despite all this, people are living in hope of good days.