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WITHIN 48 hours of launching his second coup on November 3rd, General Pervez Musharraf had compared himself to Abraham Lincoln and Napoleon Bonaparte. Like America’s president—he told Pakistanis in a televised address, shortly after he had suspended the constitution—he had been forced to intervene to prevent his country falling apart. “I will not let this country commit suicide,” he said.

General Musharraf’s identification with the little French corporal seemed more apposite. Pakistan is certainly unstable. In the past month alone, hundreds have been killed in political violence, Islamist insurgency and terrorism, including at least five suicide-bombs. Yet the general, an unpopular and now clearly illegitimate dictator, is one cause of this strife. Unlike Lincoln, he intervened to save not his country but his skin.

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