What a fantastic mess. No, I'm not talking about Collateralized Debt Obligations or the Republican Party although they certainly qualify. I'm talking Pakistan.
There is a lot of celebrating going on right now in Islamabad because, it appears, that peaceful protest and direct democracy have carried the day for the first time in that country's half-century of history. But the dancing in the streets should not be understood by us to mean that Pakistan has finally turned the corner to democracy.
The fact that Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had found his rightful place a the head of Pakistan's supreme court can't be considered without also taking a look at the considerable work that remains to be done in a country that has little will to do it.
I'm talking about putting the law ahead of expediency and allowing personal goals and aspirations to take a back seat to progress for the Nation as a whole.
The men who planned the attacks on Mumbai over Thanksgiving still operate with almost unfettered freedom, the provinces adjacent to Afghanistan remain completely autonimous and, I might add, dangerous, and the Prime Minister is wounded and cornered and likely to do something strange and destructive. There are numerous political factions filled with loathing for their rivals who are unwilling to accept defeat at the ballot box. There are also an equal number of political factions who, upon accepting victory in elections, move swiftly to consolidate their power and purge dissenters.
Pakistan is not a country of laws. It was and is a country for Muslims. It is the only nation on Earth founded as a homeland for Islam and that is the basis and the reason for the Nation's being. A constitution comes second to the Koran as guidance and any failures of government, be they minor corruption or full-fledged kleptocracy are chalked up to the perpetrators' not being good Muslims.
In the political culture of Pakistan, checks and balances are interestic concepts that should not be needed if everyone just would be good and follow Islam. The Koran does a fine job of addressing corruption and graft so why would anyone need a limit on power?
I have been talking at length with some of my students from Pakistan and they reveal a troubling truth. They do not celebrate Chaudry's reinstatement as a triumph of law. No. They say he is a bad man and bad men should not be allowed to be on the Supreme Court regardless of the law.
As long as Pakistanis continue to see the law as a barrier to doing what many see as the right thing, Pakistan will continue to be hobbled by a crippled political structure that fails to reassure its citizens that there is anything resembling fairness in that country.
The dancing in the streets is always nice and the United States will take any evicence of things going right "over there" for a change. But there is a lot more to come in this story.