PRIME Minister Gilani has rightly observed that Mian Nawaz Sharif's acquittal in the Helicopter Reference Case is a good omen for democracy. As is generally the case with usurpers, Gen Musharraf cooked up cases against the man he had overthrown in a military coup. The deposed Prime Minister, who had already been cooped up in Attock Fort, was awarded 14 years in jail and a fine of Rs 20 million and debarred from holding public office for 21 years. This was yet another episode in a drama serial the people of Pakistan had witnessed since 1958 when Ayub Khan announced the first countywide Martial Law and put political opponents in jail on trumped-up charges. True to the script, similar exercises were subsequently undertaken by Messrs Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf. There is however a happy ending to the story this time. Unlike the earlier victims, Mian Nawaz had the good fortune to have independent courts to review the cases against him. The National Accountability Bureau, which prepared the case, had turned into an instrument of torture employed to punish the politicians who happened to be on the wrong side of the Musharraf administration. The NAB was also used to break up the two mainstream parties and for recruiting the turncoats. As numerous politicians with cupboards full of rattling skeletons were welcomed with open arms by the government, accountability under NAB became a joke. The court that delivered the sentence compromised its credibility. It is an irony that while Mian Nawaz Sharif stands acquitted today and has a bright political future ahead, Gen Musharraf, already hounded out of power, talks of defending himself if prosecuted for Nawab Akbar Bugti's murder, overthrow of the Nawaz government and for actions taken after the imposition of November 3 emergency. This proves the futility of maneouvring politicians out of power through legal fiats or administrative pressures. A Supreme Court bench has already overturned the decision to ban the Sharif brothers from taking part in elections. After Mian Nawaz Sharif's acquittal in the helicopter case, another hurdle in his way to the Parliament is removed. President Zardari's spokesman Farhatulah Babar has welcomed the verdict saying that the President believes in reconciliation and a level playing field for all political actors. In case this is true, the government should implement of the CoD provisions, which require, among other things, the removal of the bar on the third tenure for the Prime Minister. Attempts to dither on the issue could lead to confrontation, which needs to be avoided. Mian Nawaz should meanwhile do well to fight the bye election, occupy his rightful position in the National Assembly as an opposition leader conceding the PPP led government the right to complete its tenure.