Since July 31 when the Supreme Court gave a judgement declaring General Musharraf's action of November 3, 2007 unconstitutional and illegal, we can confidently expect that we have a free and independent judiciary in place. All stakeholders in Pakistani politics should recognise the change and move ahead. An independent judiciary consisting of "independent minded judges" is the backbone of a stable, forward-looking society. That is why the judiciary is blamed for military interventions that has set our progress back by scores of years that they lasted. The restoration of the judges Musharraf removed illegally on November 3, 2007 changed that. We know that General Yahya was declared a 'usurper" in the well known Asma Jilani case, but the situation today is different as Musharraf has been indicted by the people themselves. Iftikhar Chaudhry was illegally removed and detained by him. This action was undone by the lawyers' movement that indeed the lawyers launched. But it delivered a punch to the establishment only when the people at large came out on the street in its support. And it was also the bold and unrelenting commitment of the media to it that culminated in the restoration of the Supreme Court. That is why I believe that this is a profound change. In the fitness of things, as indicated in the judgement, the Supreme Court began by the accountability of itself. In addition to sacking judges for corruption, the court has removed all those judges who were appointed under Musharraf's PCO and restored all the judges that were illegally removed. However, the sitting judges who took that oath will face the Supreme Judicial Council. Two such judges are Mr Khokhar and Mr Buttar. Why they chose to take an oath under the PCO must be best known to them. Anyway they have been referred to the council where that might become evident. Meanwhile both the gentlemen have resigned, which is not a bad thing to do sometimes. As an upshot of the Supreme Court judgement, a debate has started on Musharraf's trial for treason under Article 6 of the constitution. The government clearly dragging its feet on the issue says they will proceed on the matter if there is a unanimous resolution in the Parliament. Aitzaz Ahsan, whom I would much rather trust on the subject, insists there is no need for any resolution in the Parliament's after the court's judgement; the government can initiate the case. The opposition, especially Mian Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League, is more vocal on it, but that is not to say they wish to rock the boat. The objective seems to be to keep the government on the defensive. While Musharraf on a cruise abroad stays in touch with these developments, some of his apologists have ruled out any action against him. "The government dare not," they say, "do any such thing as it will amount to action against the army." Indeed, there may be generals who would treat Musharraf symbolically, but the rank and file of the army might think differently and, like the rest of the people of this country, believe that Musharraf took the country down the drain. As leaders of men, I am certain the generals would be aware of that possibility. The other debate that the July 31 ruling has generated is over the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). The Supreme Court has demanded for it to be considered by the Parliament in three/four months as required by the constitution; the government says it has lapsed after giving the benefit in different cases. An FIA official has filed a petition in the Supreme Court to end corruption cases against him with the help of NRO. This petition has been admitted. The proceedings in this case will unfold the implications of this highly controversial law, a mockery of both truth and reconciliation for which the South Africans had established a commission in their own country. I do not wish to pre-judge the issue; but it is unlikely that the NRO passes judicial scrutiny. Of course the challenges remain. Mehsud, the head of the TTP, has been killed in a drone attack. According to conflicting reports, there is a war of succession on in the TTP in open shootouts. It is hot and humid in Islamabad and load shedding is oppressive. The holy month of Ramadan is a few days away but food prices have already shot up. All this is true, but there is reason for optimism: the Supreme Court of Pakistan is daring others to follow the example they have set. Will they? Let's wait and see. The writer is a former ambassador at large