The meandering trial for treason of retired general and former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, has taken yet another course, ensuring that the courts will be well occupied with the case for quite some time. After greatly overestimating his hand, Musharraf made his grand return to Pakistan only to find himself scurrying from one courtroom to the next, defending himself from multiple incitements, including murder. Musharraf and his ever-imaginative legal team have tried all manners of tricks and gambits to get the once proud dictator out of this bind. He feigned illness, demanded trips abroad to meet his family and refused to appear for court dates, hoping to take the sting out of the building momentum and to escape the public’s notoriously fickle memory, by delaying proceedings as much as he could. The military’s subtle disapproval and the not so subtle line pushed by Pervaiz Elahi, calling for the case to be dropped, during the PTI-PAT sit-ins, was another avenue that failed to get him reprieve. For the past few months, the focus of Musharraf’s team is to include all ‘aiders and abettors’ in the 2003 imposition on emergency, indicted in the case. Something he partially succeeded in.

There are two aspects to this; the practical and the principle. Practically this means two things, first, if Musharraf’s lawyers have stopped defending him and are instead trying to drag down as many people as they can, does this mean they have conceded his guilt? One would only cry out at the injustice of not holding other wrongdoers accountable, if he himself is a wrongdoer who has been accounted for. Secondly, while it can be speculated that such theoretical niceties escaped the legal teams grasp, they were definitely on target regarding what this move would achieve. It was originally pleaded that ‘all’ aiders and abettors, including serving military leaders should be included. The objective was to mire so many big-wigs and power players into the legal whirlpool, that the legal procedures and bureaucratic red tape effectively smothers any progress.  Furthermore, it was a test of the government’s resolve, hoping that it would balk at the prospect of taking the trial to its logical conclusion, which would involve indicting several powerful personalities, some of them, like Science and Technology Minister, Zahid Hamid, who is in the government. Furthermore, all of the mentioned will have their own political leverage and clout, which they were expected to bear. So while the courts decided against involving the military in the proceedings, the number of people involved will defiantly slow the case down, perhaps even completely.

Principally speaking, why stop here; why not include the whole judiciary who took oath under the emergency, or the other officials involved in the process.  Principle would dictate the government and the court to take everyone to task, not just Musharraf, yet sticking to that principle will extinguish all chances of ever sentencing Musharraf.