There was perhaps no better time to be in Pakistan than late August to understand the powerful centrifugal forces that have plunged that country into disarray and undermined the U.S.-led war on terrorism. Within the space of a week, President Pervez Musharraf resigned and Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir Bhutto’s widower and a controversial political figure in his own right, was nominated to succeed him. Meanwhile, in a direct challenge to the state, two Taliban suicide bombers struck Pakistan’s largest munitions factory, a heavily guarded, supposedly “virtually impregnable” site, killing 64 persons.

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