Apart from a strong challenge from religious parties, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) hasn’t been under a lot of pressure from the two main opposition parties – Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). Yet Musharraf’s nocturnal escape has changed all that. Not only Nawaz Sharif, but by extension the Interior Minister, Nisar Ali Khan are coming under consistent criticism across the board for letting the former general leave the country. The government has fallen short, and in the procedure has reaffirmed the military’s upper hand.

While the government needs to be criticised the opposition is missing the mark in its criticism.

The Exist Control List, which regulates who leaves the country or not, is maintained on strict conditions. If the court mandates the removal of a person’s name for health or humanitarian reason then the government is bound to comply. When the Interior Ministry contends that it had no choice, it is correct to do so. When the PPP and the PTI attack the government for letting him go, they need to do so for the right reason.

The government is culpable, but for perusing the Musharraf trials without political will or due diligence. The trials have progressed with glacial pace; the prosecution has even failed to record statements of witness’s years from the incident. Outside legal formalities, everyone in the political and military circles knew that the case was as good as dead. It is because of those reasons – more than Musharraf’s health problems – than prompted the court to let him go.

On one basis, Nawaz Sharif is at fault; he promised his constituency – passionately and firmly – that the former general would be prosecuted. But if we hold the PML-N to this standard, the PPP falls in this category too. The cases against Musharraf were initiated under the PPP government and by the PPP government. The PML-N may have locus standi for the events of 1999, but the PPP as a greater stake as Musharraf is accused in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, their leader. The PPP were similarly toothless in its 5 year tenure; Musharraf’s departure is the completion of the process started by them.