His increasingly anxious supporters draw artistic parallels with a bird trapped within a cage when they shout their undying support for the former military dictator Pervez Musharraf. The analogy , however amusing for cynics, falls flat on its face when you consider this innocent bird’s deeds in the political past. You could bring forth the treason he has been indicted for or the extra-judicial execution of a citizen; you could skim through the innocent bird’s history of quelling dissent among activists and media (a rather peculiar position for a man who lauded himself for implementing ‘enlightened moderation’) or you could simply go through the lists of people displaced by force under his regime. You will have at your disposal a history well stocked with the innocent bird’s doings – and undoings.

In a way, it is poetic justice – partially served. As analysts have maintained before, if one wishes to enter the dynamic arena of politics, one must also remember that they will have to face the music. And the music is not always so melodious – well, especially not when one unapologetically goes forward with the suspension of the Constitution under emergency rule. It isn’t a linear path of delivering justice either: For all we know, the incumbent government and the judiciary have been swaying back and forth in front of a hyper-excited media and generally skeptical public. But this unique juncture in our volatile history is highly significant for one rudimentary reason: We have received the rare opportunity of holding a dictator accountable for the gross transgressions he made.

It is for this reason, the government’s decision to reject Pervez Musharraf’s application seeking removal from the Exit Control List (ECL) is not only apt but crucial in holding a man to task for his former deeds. If anything, our concerned institutions should go swiftly forth in wrapping this trial up and creating an example for the masses who have, for long, forgotten the relish of unbiased justice but also to firmly establish the writ of the state above all. Beating about the bush any further will simply place the relevance of this trial into uncertainty. For his unrelenting and amnesiac followers who have, for some reason, forgotten chunks of history under his dictatorship, the bird in the cage is trapped “unfairly” but for those who felt the crushing pressure of precarity during his rule, the bird is exactly where he belongs.