Although at a snail’s pace, the treason case against former President and COAS, Pervez Musharraf, is making progress despite repeated warnings of doomsday and discouraging predictions. The cynicism surrounding the trial is understandable considering the country’s non-existent record of holding military generals accountable. Mr Musharraf was the third military leader to seize power by force in 1999, but he is the first dictator made to appear before a civilian court of law to answer for his actions. That alone is an achievement for the proponents of the rule of law, and is a testament to the growing power of the civilian leadership and the courts. The military’s role so far has been far more balanced against the expectations of many others, including Mr Musharraf.

On his second appearance before the 3-member special court on 21st February after his unexpected and extended stay at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC), Mr Musharraf’s application requesting the case to be tried by a military court was rejected. The special court has scheduled the next hearing for the 11th of March upon which Mr Musharraf will finally be indicted. During his stay at the hospital away from the public eye, the country was abuzz with rumours of secret arrangements being made for his safe exit from the country. Some enthusiasts only stopped short of guessing the size and type of plane that would fly their hero away from harm’s way. The plane fantasy never materialised, and against all odds and schemes, Mr Musharraf landed in court.

The code of conduct observed by the defense counsel throughout the course of the trial has been an absurd array of the dramatic. From calling judges biased “paid executioners,” to accusing journalists of being “Indian agents,” and creating the impression that the entire Armed Forces are under trial– they’ve done it all. Unfortunately for them, all this has accomplished nothing other than considerably adding to their notoriety, and setting a new low. It must be frustrating to learn that intimidation and self-congratulatory nationalistic rhetoric has lost its magic over the years. And those who violated the constitution at will are now forced to go through it word by word to save their skins.

The exact outcome of the ongoing treason trial will only be determined with time. For now, the focus must remain on progress made day to day. The democratic government and superior judiciary must go by the book to avoid any controversies. There is no room for prejudice and mistakes. “Not only must justice be done; it must also be seen to be done.”