January 1, 2014 is a date that will be seen as a momentous occasion in Pakistan’s history, considering that a military ruler’s regime is actually being challenged by the judiciary, in a trial that is likely to leave a mark on politics in this country. With only three days remaining before the beginning of Musharraf’s trial, his last plea to go see his ailing mother in Dubai has been turned down by the government. The occasion also has poetic tendencies, considering that the government that was overthrown by Musharraf has come back to haunt him in a way he would never have expected. It all seems rosy for Nawaz Sharif, except that the ex-military dictator does not look too worried.

Musharraf’s support system, the army, has distanced itself from this entire episode. Kayani, when in control, had made remarks indicative of advising letting bygones be bygones, but the new COAS has so far looked the other way. The army under his lead will also — it is hoped — keep itself aloof from the whole affair. Their reluctance to make a move is a positive, considering that without this indifference there would be no question of a trial. It seems that this mood will be maintained unless the outcome leads to something drastic, such as a sentencing. The army will not tolerate one of their own to suffer that sort of fate and a conviction with a sentence might bring things to a head.

The trial itself has certain points that tend to surprise. The prosecution’s main contention for treason will be abrogating the constitution under the emergency imposed in 2007, and the actual coup of 1999 might not be the focus of the proceedings. This is due to the fact that his actions in overthrowing Nawaz Sharif were later accepted by the Supreme Court, and hence established as valid. The defense in its turn, will attempt to highlight the inconsistencies within the constitution, and will use the examples in history to obtain exoneration. Either way, it seems that a prolongation of this trial is not ideal for anyone considering our unstable political system and yet it seems that will be the case considering that debate will be conducted over the finer details in the constitution and things will get drawn out unnecessarily. A speedy affair is in the interests of the government and Pakistan’s society in general, and the democratic government should accept the victory that comes with starting the proceedings and should not make the mistake of getting caught up in the bloodlust which might prove to be more costly than they bargained for.