Well, in terms of the democratic psyche, ethos, genius, or what have you, the nation of Pakistan has not evolved in any way other than to project increasing immaturity coupled with a latent violence. There is something radically wrong. Mass unthinking street jollity at the fall of a national leader has become the order of the day since 1977, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was booted out by General Ziaul Haq. Widespread rejoicing was the reaction, with uninhibited dancing in the streets and the distribution and mutual feeding of ludoos and gulab jamans. This was repeated in 1988 when Zia's C-130 and its crate of mangoes blew itself to smithereens, then in 1990, with the turfing out of the first of the Benazir Bhutto governments. Come 1993, and the demise of Nawaz Sharif's first stint in power and the exercise was repeated. And again, in 1996 with Benazir's second fall, and again in 1999 when General Pervez Musharraf came marching in on the wings of Sharif's inanity and the sweetmeat merchants did a roaring trade for a couple of days. Once more we have just had the same childish behaviour, with the addition of the mass aerial firing of thousands of Kalashnikovs at the departure of the President General. Not only is there something horribly wonky in this public display of immaturity and ignorance, it is dangerous, it smacks of violence, and it is totally lacking in any democratic dignity, particularly when members of our elected assemblies form part of these distorted celebrations, many of them frothing at the mouth despite having merely partially satiated their spirit of vengeance as the resignation spoilt their impeachment party. There is little to celebrate with the departure of Musharraf. What has he left behind? For certain, it is not a resounding victory for the forces of democracy, as claimed by the political classes. The country is in a mess, as it has been for so long, leading many to believe that it is doomed. It is now totally at the mercy of dynastic forces, and drawing room politics. Parliament has so far shown itself to be irrelevant. It is in the vulgarly gilded plush and plummy lounging rooms where the fate of the nation is decided. And to enforce the dynastic side of things, a 19-year old boy has been dragged into the seamy side of political bargaining and manipulation. Is his father using him as some sort of weapon, putting words into his mouth about the presidential appointment? This is not only shameful and ridiculous but highly unfair to the youth. How can the two major coalition partners ever forge a peaceful and fruitful alliance, or even become responsible adversaries? All they have in common is that both have had two turns in power, both have fleeced the country, both have enriched themselves at our expense, both are untrustworthy, both are relics of the failed politics of the 1990s - Sharif being more of a relic as he has been around on our political map since the days of Ziaul Haq firstly as finance minister of the Punjab and then its chief minister. The dismal performance of the two demeaned democracy and has gone a long way towards blowing Pakistan's chances of maturing into a decently governed country (Musharraf was just not up to the massive transformation needed). As to who is more culpable of the two is a moot point, but the scales would probably tip towards Mian Nawaz Sharif who in 1997 had a majority huge enough to have been able to use his power for good rather than for ill. Firstly, as is the case with Zardari, the Mian fostered corruption, in which they were both allegedly deeply implicated. Corruption there has to be in politics, democratic or dynastic or military, but if it is kept in check it does less damage. With accountability nowhere, corruption undermines not just the polity but also the economy. One of Pakistan's problems, it is said, is the refusal of the common man to pay taxes, and he is justified. He reckons that the politicians will steal his money, which is what they have been seen to do. Sharif and Zardari are well known for using their powers to attack not just political opponents but also the institutions of state essential to the functioning of any form of democracy. How can we believe that a decade later, with vengeance deep in their hearts, they have in any way changed? They have rid themselves of their nemesis, Musharraf, with Zardari delivering him to Sharif. Musharraf did the right and proper thing both for the country and himself and went before the situation grew more fraught. As concluded an editorial in London's Guardian, "He was not a military dictator in the classical sense." This may partially explain his failure. Also, "his main project, the construction of a modern enlightened state, was doomed to failure because "he tried to do so on the back of a feudal, patronage-driven political machine." Whatever be our political fate, executive control of the army is still a far cry. The army remains the pivotal point of any form of governance and though it is now showing great patience, in the face of political paralysis and its involvement in the un-checkable Taliban advances up north, it can still wield its stick. To support democrats and condemn military coups is correct, but maybe we should remember that not all elected leaders are democrats and not all generals tyrants. The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail: arfc@cyber.net.pk