Pakistanis, like much of the world, have kept a close eye on Egypt ever since Tahrir Square first became a symbol for a people rising up in the face of
unspeakable oppression. And yet with the whole world's focus on the Middle East, Pakistan recently underwent the first transition in its history from one
democratically elected government to another. In spite of the best efforts of the Taliban, the elections saw a record turnout
. Unlike Egypt's democracy, which had all the fire of an adolescent coming of age, Pakistan's democracy seemed to have grown up, bought a minivan, and
moved to the suburbs with the kids and a terrier.
But this political maturity has not come about easily. Musharraf was Pakistan's fourth military dictator in an illustrious line. Between them, they had
started an unprovoked war with India in the '60s (Ayub Khan), engineered the separation of Bangladesh in the '70s (Yahya Khan), and made Pakistan the
hotbed of militant Islamic extremists in the '80s (Zia-ul-Haq). All of these men in khaki uniforms had been greeted with some amount of popular approval
and yet left the country with wounds yet to heal.
Egyptian people are right to be angry at the Morsi government, which failed to deliver on most of the promises it made. And yet a lot of what Morsi is
accused of doing -- consolidating power, intimidating opponents, and mismanaging the economy -- seems to not be out of the ordinary. Democracies,
particularly ones as young as Egypt's, are never pretty, at least not when they are growing up. While military dictatorships offer an illusion of control
and stability, no country knows better than Egypt about the lasting ill effects of unelected governments. The '90s were a time of particular turmoil in
Pakistan, with civilian governments exchanging power like needles in a crack shack, resulting in ubiquitous discontent. And yet, Pakistan's foundations
were never made weaker than by the decisions of a military machine that ostensibly is government's most disciplined and nationalistic wing.
The irony of the champions of democracy now dancing in the streets as champions of a military coup is not subtle. As Pakistanis, we had always looked
toward the democracies of the West and hoped for similar stability and decorum, without realizing what it took for those systems to reach that state. To my
brothers in Egypt, I wish them well in their struggle but offer them the highest degree of caution when greeting an ambitious general. Some of the
military's intentions have already been made clear with the systematic pursuit of the Muslim Brotherhood's leadership. While I hope very much that this
celebration will not be seen as an egregious and immature display of misdirected frustration, history paints a pessimistic picture. As Pakistanis have now
realized -- none more so than Nawaz Sharif, who was recently elected back into power after years spent in jail and exile -- revenge is best served at the