The dilemma facing the nation ended on August 18 when Musharraf announced his resignation. The compendium of events of this past week had climaxed on the Independence Day when all over the country witnessed through symposia and addresses that the time had finally arrived for Musharraf to say adieu to the unlawful usurpation of state powers he had amassed from the people of Pakistan since October 1999. There had been rumours that the president may announce his decision as early as during the midnight dinner on the eve of Independence Day, or perhaps within the next 48 hours. That did not occur but on August 16 the foreign minister threatened that if Musharraf did not go voluntarily by the following day, impeachment would begin. That is precisely what the still unfolding saga of events has produced. Not unexpectedly conflicting signals of what he may do were emitted from Musharraf's small bunch of helpers left; clearly the mounting pressures of the impeachment lobby, defections and desertions in the ranks of his one-time political allies, and hectic manoeuvring by senior American and British diplomats persuaded Musharraf to go while still there was time Musharraf demonstrably looked hopelessly isolated since what was left by all credible accounts at that time as his last brigade of followers were: two retired brigadiers, two old lawyers who share a last name and long past their best in the legal field, a political dropout from the PPP. Until almost the eleventh hour his advisers counselled him against stepping down and to go for the kill before the elected parliament started the impeachment process. He still had, in a demonic sort of way the option to disband the Assembly and the present government by using his powers under Article 58-2(b). I think if I can play the devil's advocate role for a moment, he could have done four things in this hypothetical scenario: i) dismiss the government as submitted under Article 58, ii) appoint an interim government of his own choice, iii) announce his resignation, and iv) refer the matter to the present Supreme Court (SC) headed by Justice Dogar. Why he chose the tamest way out, and for him certainly full of indignity is probably based on clear ground realities. First, it has been reported that when in early August one of his trusted legal friends met with Justice Dogar he informed Musharraf after that meeting that he should not expect much hope from that quarter. Second, is the role played by British diplomat Mark Lyall. He achieved this end which avoided the undertaking of such drastic steps by Musharraf by reaching an understanding with Zardari. Under this arrangement if Musharraf agreed to resign, he would be given a safe and honourable exit. Third, is the abysmal showing by Musharraf's people in Sindh. The first half-hearted attempt to bring in a no-confidence motion against the provincial government in the Sindh Assembly fizzled out when Amin Fahim failed to muster the support of more than four or five members. Such a move, potentially with the active support of the MQM and Pir Pagara, would have started the destabilisation process. In the end, Fahim's son was left with no option but to resign his Sindh cabinet post. In this scenario, I further understand that another diabolical option was considered: to use the pretext of deteriorating law and order to dissolve the Sindh Assembly. This was to be done in the hope of starting a chain reaction. However, the potential advantages of such a move were at best unpredictable. It could be said that if such a move resulted in protest demonstrations or possible violence, the danger of things getting out of control may become real necessitating an army take over. This could be seen as a deliberate attempt to draw the army into what is essentially a constitutional battle between the incumbent ruling junta and the newly elected parliamentary forces. Finally, Musharraf even played the ultimate "reconciliation" card as well On August 15, the coalition government rejected Musharraf's Independence Day appeal for "reconciliation" and vowed to impeach the former general if he failed to quit. Nawaz said the president had "trampled on the constitution" and had to go. "There is no safe passage for him now. I am not a revenge-seeker. This is not about me, it is about the whole country," he said. Gilani meanwhile called for "a policy of reconciliation" but made it clear that it did not apply to Musharraf. Meanwhile, PPP said that charges against Musharraf had been finalised. "I am pleased to announce on Independence Day that the impeachment process is moving fast and is on the right track," party spokesman Farhatullah Babar said. So the crux of the real problem now can be stated as whether his ouster would result in his being given a safe passage? Obviously, it is clear that there is some agreement involving at least three countries, US, UK and Saudi Arabia for Musharraf to get away from his most odious acts during his long stints as Pakistan's absolute ruler. Quite apart from the diplomatic niceties of the situation, it has to be said that if this were allowed then Pakistan cannot be treated by anyone as "independent". Which country will allow its arch constitutional criminal to go away scott free like this? On a human plane who can forget the log litany of constitutional violations committed by him? Let us highlight just a few to make this point. Did he not bundle out both Nawaz and earlier Shahbaz Sharif despite two SC orders allowing them to return to their native country? Did he not dismiss the country's SC judges twice in a span of six years? Did he not dismiss the chief justices of that time as well? Did he not amass the country' top position of president twice without being duly elected? I am afraid the list is too long to give here but it is sufficient to say that anyone who insists that indemnity be given to him cannot be a nationalist. The only support that Musharraf got officially ostensibly from abroad is from India. India's National Security Advisor N K Narayanan has expressed concern over the move for Musharraf's impeachment because he believes it can create a political vacuum and strengthen extremists. Narayanan hoped for an honourable exit for Musharraf. It is obvious that India on the one hand has grievances against Pakistan and on the other is expressing concern over the situation in Pakistan? Could it be that Narayanan through his statement wanted to enlarge the conflict and sharpen contradiction between Musharraf and the coalition partners? Otherwise he or other Indian leaders should not care for Musharraf or have concern for him. The part played by Lyall Grant is very strange, to say the least. He must know British history to recall what fate his nation accorded to the only dictator in that country's last thousand years of constructional history. Let me remind him and others who are now clamouring for indemnity for Musharraf that General Oliver Cromwell was tried after his death in 1661 for overthrowing the parliament. The parliament in 1660 ordered the exhumation and posthumous execution of several of his collaborators. In January 1661 Westminster Abbey was dug up for the remains of Oliver Cromwell and others. Three corpses were duly produced and conveyed to Tyburn, where they were hanged and his already dead body was left at a public place for people to see what fate awaited those who took to change the constitution of that realm by force. At the international level the London Agreement of 1945 specifically mandated that to avoid excesses by dictatorship, all those who played a major role should be tried. As consequence the world community set the Nuremberg and Tokyo War Tribunals. While there is difference, philosophically the moral message is clear that those that betray public trust ought to be punished. The public trial of the CJ of Germany is a vivid reminder of the majesty of rule of law for us to follow. As such those who now take actions at State level to grant Musharraf some form of putative immunity, are themselves guilty of such criminal liability that they try to cover-up. Accordingly I strongly support the stand taken up by Nawaz Sharif on this issue; those who place their own interests higher than that of the state would themselves be liable for a punitive action later at an appropriate time in history. As Musharraf and PM Man Mohan Singh agreed on an "out of the box "solution of the Kashmir dispute after many rounds of direct and indirect talks. They decided in 2006 to resolve the Kashmir dispute by the end of 2007. US President Bush was also on board with them. It is also well known that both leaders had hoped for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 along with Bush but now they have all missed that bus. But that is not to say that this country's entire leadership should do likewise by not giving dictatorship, that is to say Musharraf and his main aides and abettors their day in court. He has the right to be judged by a court and not merely by history as probably the worst dictator to have assumed that role in the country's political system. I may end by saying that the world's legal system is such that now it is not easy for international criminals to run away that easily. If he goes to countries like the US, UK, there too trials are awaiting him as well for violating internationally protected human rights. I have filed such Briefs before and would do so again if circumstances permit. The writer is an attorney-at-law (US), barrister-at-law (UK), senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and professor at Harvard University