The Moment


Men walk past the aftermath of a car-bomb explosion in Peshawar on October 9, 2009

For seemingly forever, Pakistan has been a state failing in myriad ways. Yet even by its ever treacherous standards, what has occurred over a very bloody recent week is depressing. Bombs in bazaars, assaults on the army — whether you are protected (soldiers) or not (shoppers), the militants are declaring, We can get at you. It's as if the country is becoming the hell Iraq was at its worst. The devil is not in the details — al-Qaeda's involvement, where the extremists are, how to retaliate. It's in Islamabad's broad, historical abdication of any government's most essential responsibility: taking care of...

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