A high priority development which the nation was anxiously waiting for, has taken place. The Supreme Court has issued summons for Mr Pervez Musharraf to appear before the court in person or through his lawyers to defend himself before a 14-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The legal battle against former President Musharraf has finally begun. The court is examining the PCO (Presidential Constitutional Order) promulgated by General (retd) Musharraf on November 3, 2007, under which he promulgated emergency in the country, relieved 60 judges from their posts and appointed new judges who took oath under PCO, and could validate Musharraf's unconstitutional acts to declare emergency without any valid reason, abrogation of the 1973 constitution through imposition of PCO and above all issuance of NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) which was a misnomer for greater across-the-board political reconciliation in national interest and for harmonious transition from a military government to civilian rule. The NRO, in effect, allowed total indemnity to Ms Benazir Bhutto, her husband Asif Ali Zardari, Mian Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif as well as all their associates including politicians and bureaucrats from all charges of corruption and criminal misconduct pending in the courts of law for over a decade. By one stroke of pen these charges were wiped out and the offenders returned to the country squeaky clean. This ordinance will go down in history as "death of accountability" to join hands with condemned political leaders. It is probably unprecedented in the history of civilised nations that hundreds of politicians and bureaucrats on trial in the country and abroad for corruption and other heinous crimes, for over a decade have been given free pardon in the name of national reconciliation under pressure from a foreign country. The cat and mouse game of "accountability" which continued for many years with great fanfare but without much success came to an abrupt end. However the credit or discredit goes to Mr Musharraf to bury the process of accountability forever and give a freehand to politicians and bureaucrats to loot and plunder the country whenever they so desire. When the case against Mr Musharraf opens in the Supreme Court, it will be for the first time in Pakistan's history that an ex-army general and former head of state will come under legal scrutiny and held accountable for his actions by the country's highest court, which he had treated with utter contempt, and humiliated and punished without any reasonable cause. He will reap what he had sowed as a military dictator. This country has had four generals as head of state who did not allow democracy to flourish - Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf. Among them, Ayub, Yahya and Musharraf were overthrown by political movements, while Zia died in an air crash. General Yahya Khan and General Niazi who was GOC Eastern Command also bore the responsibility of the break-up of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh. What could be a greater crime than that, but they were neither tried nor punished for their crimes. It is Musharraf's hard luck that he would likely go on trial and punished if found guilty. Now is the time to stand in the court and fight out his case with valour and dignity. The rest is always in God's hands. Mr Musharraf, who is presently living in London, seems to have gone in a state of denial. In an interview to an American TV network recently, he said: "The dismissal of the chief justice of the Supreme Court in March 2007 was the right thing to do and its negative fallout was the result of mishandling of the affair by his zealous subordinates." He further maintained that the slain leader, Ms Benazir Bhutto should not have returned prematurely to Pakistan and that had she waited a bit longer, according to an understanding with him, she would be alive today, probably as the prime minister of the country, with him as president. Musharraf clearly stated: "Had she not broken her agreement by returning earlier than he had proposed, Ms Benazir Bhutto would be alive. I think so, I think so. Absolutely. She would have lived...I think I would have been (president). Yes...if she did get elected and she did become prime minister I would have continued as the president. Because I was elected by the (then) Parliament. So that would have continued." What a wishful thinking, indeed Moreover, Musharraf said that he would face any charges against him in court and denied any knowledge of an indemnity deal to overlook his alleged excesses. "One has to face realities on ground and I will face them. I am not a man who runs away from realities. Let them bring lawsuits and (try to) prove anything against me," said the former COAS. Musharraf said the rivalry between Mr Nawaz Sharif and President Zardari was "destabilising" and distracting attention from what he called "the greatest danger" - the fight against terrorism and extremism. General Musharraf was asked if he thought the time was ripe for a military takeover. He said he could not and would not comment. The writer is former director news, PTV. E-mail: burhanhasan@hotmail.com