The Special Court’s short order in the Musharraf treason case shook the entire country; the present situation and the future ramifications of the order naturally perturbed many. The pain felt by the rank and file of the armed forces was shared by the rest of Pakistan as well.

The sentence was perceived as an almost deliberate rebuff, a near vindictive attempt to unsettle and dismay the populace. An individual who led the army as its chief and administered the oath to countless PMA officers that followed was sentenced to the gallows – this was very difficult to digest.

While the general public was still coming to terms with the news of the decision, the detailed judgement took us much further than the initial distress. The full order was supposed to bring an element of clarity in this whole affair, yet sadly, it did the exact opposite.

Paragraph 66 in particular of the judgement was what stood out. Not only was this paragraph in contravention of both national and international law, but it also goes against every principle of common human decency and respect for human life. The detailed judgement has made a decision that was already hard to come to terms with, completely unpalatable.

This also compounds the feeling in the armed forces of aim being taken against the institution, with the detailed judgement adding insult to injury. At a time when external enemies are looking for the slightest chink in Pakistan’s armour, the armed forces must be given the full weight of public support, and any impressions of targeted affront must be dispelled immediately.

The shocking recommendation also harms the special court’s own standing. The judgement brought many questions of the legal process that would have been debated by legal minds for years to come. Paragraph 66, however, completely derailed the debate before it even began. An unnecessary addition to the rest of the judgement – and one that was not endorsed by part of the bench – has now become the focal point for conversation.

Paragraph 66 will be remembered by historians, and in time may even become an idiom on its own, for being excessive and inhumane in the extreme. In any case, a judgement that looks to protect the constitution cannot operate outside its ambit. The language within para 66 needs to be denounced by all and sundry as excessive and completely unnecessary.