March 22, 2007Foreign Affairs

Brasses and Wigs

Why a judicial crisis in Pakistan is unlike a mere political one

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Most people outside Pakistan who know anything about the country would be amused at the sheer irony of military dictators talking about constitutional propriety. Sepoy has an excellent post that reveals the mystery of this chapati:

The basis of this symbiotic relationship between The General and the Court lie in the structure of power and influence in Pakistani society. The tiers in this pyramid are the Military, which is the largest employer, the largest landholder and has the longest duration in power, the civil bureaucracy, which traces back to the Raj though much weakened during Musharraf’s tenure, and the largely land-based elite. Functioning between these tiers are functional classes like the Lawyers who have parlayed their unique access to military, civil and landed elite into their necessary role as brokers. The Court is apex of such brokerage. It has relied especially on the hagiography of the Constitution to bolster its power. The Generals, eager to have any official stamp on their chest, have in turn portrayed the Court as the last bastion of truly apolitical and patriotic actors in Pakistan. Which means that when scandal does erupt around the Court, it has far greater reverberations. [Chapati Mystery]

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