Barely a decade ago, it seemed unimaginable that one democratically elected regime would succeed another in Pakistan.
That it should involve the re-election of Nawaz Sharif, who was deposed by military coup in 1999 before fleeing to exile in Saudi Arabia, would have seemed particularly far-fetched.
And yet in Islamabad yesterday, Pakistan’s parliament approved Mr Sharif as Prime Minister before hearing him articulate his priorities for the coming term. They were familiar: from reviving a stuttering economy to resisting US drones and defeating the jihadism which the country has incubated for years.
Democracy in Pakistan is too fragile to allow great expectations, and Mr Sharif will probably disappoint those who elected him by a handsome majority. But for fans of democracy and the rule of law everywhere, the very fact of that election is a cause for cheer.