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On this day in 1999, former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif ousted in bloodless coup

ISLAMABAD – On this day 22 years ago, Pakistan witnessed a military coup which ousted the PML-N government.

The nation is commemorating the 22nd anniversary of a coup, the fourth such attempt in the country’s history that changed the future politics in Pakistan, and was done on the order of former army chief General Pervez Musharraf.

On October 12, 1999, a former four-star general landed in Pakistan from a foreign trip abroad to lead a military regime after fellow generals had already deposed Sharif’s government after the latter attempted to remove Musharraf from the post of country’s top commander.

In response, the distressed Musharraf raced to Colombo airport boarding a PIA flight to Sindh capital while his loyal general began to mobilise troops stationed in nearby Rawalpindi.

As former PM formally appointed Gen Ziauddin as the new head of the military at his official residence but all of the top brass reportedly refusing to accept his command.

In wake of the unfolding situation, former PM and General Ziauddin realised they had to Musharraf from returning. PM’s office announced Gen Musharraf’s retirement at around 4 pm.

Later, troops from the 111 Brigade of the 10th Corps were on their way to Islamabad while other battalions stood guard outside the top court. Some troops climbed over the main gate of state-run TV during the military coup.

Following the orders, the PML-N leader refused to resign was later escorted from the building and placed in a guest house.

Forces surrounded the PM’s home, closed all airports, along with the state-run television and radio stations for hours.

Following the takeover, Musharraf in a televised clip, addressed the nation saying “your armed forces have never, and shall never, let you down. We shall preserve the integrity and sovereignty of our country to the last drop of our blood. I request you all to remain calm and support your armed forces in the reestablishment of order to pave the way for a prosperous future for Pakistan.”

PML-N and other workers were detained in nationwide arrest in wake of the corruption and governance-related cases. Later, ousted PM Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shehbaz Sharif were arrested and later exiled from Pakistan, as a part of a deal in December 2000.

Musharraf then became chief executive and started reforms of the National Security Council to run state affairs. Chief Justice, including nine senior justices, refused to take an oath and later stepped down.

Former Pakistani President, Rafiq Tarar, remained President of Pakistan from 1998 to 2002 and was replaced by Musharraf after the completion of his five-year tenure. It was also the end of the two-party system in Pakistan.

In later years, PML-N supremo pushed for Musharraf to be tried for treason as the latter suspended the constitution and imposed emergency rules. However, he resigned in 2008 to avoid the threat of impeachment amid the nationwide protests.

A court was established in 2013 which handed down the death sentence to Musharraf in absentia for treason over his 2007 imposition of emergency rule however Musharraf was allowed to leave Pakistan in 2016 and he is in Dubai battling chronic ailments. A provincial high court later overturned the decision and dissolved the special court that had convicted former COAS.

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