As the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday declared the formation of a special court — which heard the treason case against former dictator Pervez Musharraf and handed him a death sentence after finding him guilty of treason — “unconstitutional”, a palpable sigh of relief was taken across the nation. A needlessly vicious special court verdict has been neutralized, and the government can now focus on the endless problems of today, rather than exorcising the ghosts of the past.

The relief comes not from uncertainty over what the LHC verdict would be but rather over the quick pace at which the LHC arrived at it. The decision itself was a foregone conclusion the minute the detailed judgement was read out, and then as soon as the review petition was filed. With the government – which had filed the original case – and the petitioners for the former dictator, both seeking to overturn the verdict there was not much the court could do. The Additional Attorney General (AAG) Ishtiaq A. Khan, appearing on behalf of the federal government, gave the court the basis of the judgment himself – that the formation of the special court was done in contravention to democratic and constitutional rules. With no one arguing against this narrative, the verdict was a simple matter.

Predicting what follows next is not so simple. The government has indicated in the past – when it had axed the original prosecution team – that it was doing so to ensure a diligent and through prosecution of Pervez Musharraf; that it didn’t want legal technicalities to scupper the verdict. The tenor of the government’s arguments has been to claim that the imposition of the emergency and the abrogation of the constitution were not crimes in the first place. The federal government will be more than satisfied to take the present verdict and move on to more exigent matters. No appeal will be filed, and the matter will be put to rest.