Former General Pervez Musharraf is faced with several charges in separate courts, yet all of them seem to be making little progress. The recent judgment by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) -setting aside the special court’s decision in the high treason trial – has certainly cleared the uncertainty about the case, but in doing so has created other problems. The Musharraf trials drag on.

On Musharraf’s plea, the special court had ordered the government to re-file the charges after including the names of former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, former federal minister Zahid Hamid and former Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar as abettors to the crime – Musharraf claims they were his confidants. Since November 21 2014, this has been an insurmountable hurdle for the prosecution; the government obviously hesitant to arrest and indict other individuals who have influence to halt proceedings. The IHC judgment has set aside this order, allowing the government to prosecute Musharraf alone; however this comes at a price. The government has been ordered to “reinvestigate” the case, while paying special attention to the role of aiders and abettors. It is one step forward, two steps back.

All is not lost, the government can gather fresh evidence and can proceed against Musharaff from a strong position, and if it chooses, without the burden of having to try aiders and abettors. In this regard the judgment is a good one, Musharaff’s trial as the main accused should not be bound to the fate of his alleged accomplices.

This advantage, so to speak, depends on the government being determined to prosecute this case thoroughly. So far it is content to debate legal niceties and wind down the clock while maintaining an illusion of action. It managed to gather scant evidence and make slow progress when the PML-N was in absolute power. With the civil-military balance as skewed as it is these days, it may make even slower progress. It is now up to the special court to order a deadline for the completion of this ‘reinvestigation’ – the sooner the better.

This lack of urgency on behalf of the government is also evident in Muharaff’s other trials. The court will be considering, based on the defendant’s plea, whether the video testimony of Mark Seigel is admissible or not, since the law requires him to be present in person. In an age where world leaders have twitter accounts, such a question should be dealt with summarily, the government and the courts are content to devote several months to this ‘issue’.