What could have been a groundbreaking and reaffirming moment in our national history is now becoming a case of constant postponement and reluctance displayed by the government; former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s treason trial looks like a matter of waning interest merely. The treason case was due to commence on December 24, 2013 but has been delayed over and over again due to the former president’s apparently deteriorating health and security threats. No one doubts the authenticity of the medical reports explaining the multiple conditions Musharraf suffers but it does seem a little too coincidental to bring up evidence of ailment right around the time when one is summoned by the court. The timing is either immaculate or pre-determined but either way, it only proves that exit doors are forever open for the powerful in Pakistan.

The trial carries potent symbolism for civilians in our country; the running and collective opinion at the present time is that the military ruler should be held accountable for criminal charges pressed against him including the violation of the constitution not once but twice. The suspension of the constitution in 2007 and the imposition of emergency rule is more than enough a reason to conduct a treason trial but with how his appearing is being stalled off, our apprehension grows darker. One can hear initially-vocal ministers whispering about a potential flight out of the country for Musharraf to Paris Regional Medical Centre due to an apparent lack of ‘advanced technology’ in Pakistan for his cardiac health.

More than anything, it is obvious that the trial is not just a trial; it is a defiant step that can expedite the ongoing democratic political process in Pakistan. It is an unprecedented development that could possibly turn into a game-changer and may even effectively challenge the hegemony of the military institution. But all of this is rapidly fading out; public interest – which was robust in the very beginning – is now morphing into cynicism while incumbent ministers who supported the trial seem to be dilly dallying about it now. The charges against Musharraf are not trivial; whether it involves extra-judicial killings, the increment in missing people, the suspension of the constitution, the relentless attacks on the judiciary, imposition of emergency rule; it is obvious that we are still dealing with the repercussions of a dictatorship. Let this trial finally begin before our doubts are confirmed.