Considering the balance – or imbalance, rather – of power in Pakistan, the verdict was never in much doubt. Yet, for brief sliver of time it did seem that the Supreme Court may be able to resist the overbearing pressure and maintain a constitutional structure that bears some resemblance to its counterparts worldwide.

Petitions challenging the 21st amendment were dismissed in a majority 11-6 vote of the 17-member SC bench; the military courts are here to stay.

The arguments against forming a parallel military judicial system are numerous and oft-repeated. It undermines the authority of the civilian judicial system, which will only be seen as an inferior entity. It concentrates power in the hands of the military – which now have their own economy, media, foreign service, judiciary, and law enforcement (Rangers) – making them a veritable state in themselves. Furthermore, by ceding all responsibility to try terrorists to the military in this makeshift arrangement, the government has no motivation to reform the existing system. Of course, the military’s judicial regime adds a few serious concerns of their own. The trials are conducted in secret, debated in secret and disposed of in secret. No one knows what evidence was presented or if any was presented at all. There are no established rules of procedure, no concrete evidential requirements, and from the looks of it, no appeal procedure. The military arrests people it terms ‘terrorists’, tries them themselves, adjudicates themselves, and executes the convicts themselves. Even the most barbaric and heinous criminal is afforded a fair trial under our constitutions. Apparently our esteemed justices and politicians – led by the ever compliant Nawaz Sharif – seem to have forgotten that.

Of course there are some advantages of the military courts. They can ostensibly try the terrorists the civilian judiciary was too scared to convict, such as Malik Ishaq and Zakiur-Rehman Lakhvi. Yet there seems to be no indication that the military is going to do that. While the courts remain inherently flawed, they can redeem themselves if they start convicting the militants that walk brazenly in the open, thus fulfilling their true purpose. When will the banned organisations in Punjab be targeted? When will the sectarian ASWJ be charged? While they remain in the open, the military courts remain a sham- a bid to gain more power disguised as the answer to all terrorism.

The greatest tragedy of the verdict is not the legal validation of the military courts – they will expire in a few years – the tragedy is the affirmation of ‘the doctrine of necessity’ once more by the apex court. It is this doctrine that was used to rationalise every military coup since 1947, and it is the same doctrine that was argued by the government.