The politics of today are a far cry from 2007, and further from 1999. What many thought unthinkable has happened, a former military chief and former president of Pakistan has been convicted for high treason by the judiciary. The maximum mandatory punishment – the death sentence — has also been applied. Legal challenges, judicial reviews, and political prerogatives remain to be contended with. Yet, the verdict delivered cannot be forgotten or wished undone; and we will all live in the wake of its sizeable waves.

Musharraf’s conviction throws up a host of problematic questions. If the court considers hin responsible for the abrogation of the constitution, then the vast multitudes that allowed the abrogation – those who supported him, legitimized his actions, formed his cabinet – also logically must be guilty of the same crime. If not as the prime instigators then certainly as aiders and abettors. Many of these men and women now form the core of the present government; they populate the ranks of the opposition and occupy important positions in the bureaucracy and the judiciary. Will the court move against these individuals too? Or will the axe only fall on Pervez Musharraf, while the rest go scot-free?

The singular focus on Pervez Musharraf to the exclusion of all may give an impression that this stunning verdict was delivered with a view to being a symbolic warning, not all encompassing in its breadth.

Long before Pervez Musharraf ruled the country, he was a serving member of the armed forces; a frontline commando who served the nation with distinction on many occasions. It is quite understandable that those who occupy the same positions on our borders today, who protect us day and night, who lay down their lives for their country, who see no sacrifice as too great in their uniform, will look at this verdict and wonder if General Musharraf’s long service was for naught. The sentiments of the rank and file cannot and must not be ignored.

The present government believes in a similar stance, and has made it clear that it will go to every extent to try to reverse this verdict. Under the review of a superior court, comprised of different judges, and represented by a new legal team this case may yet have another fate. Even the most ardent supporters of the verdict cannot deny that there were legal deficiencies in the procedure – deficiencies that might tip the scales from a fair trial to a rushed judgment.

Whatever that verdict might be, today Pakistan stands stunned, on both sides of the aisle.