CLOSE CALLS

Near-Meltdown in Pakistan

It took threats from Hillary Clinton to cut off aid and signals that the Pakistani military might take over the government, but President Asif Ali Zardari finally gave in to mass protests and acceded to opposition leader Nawaz Sharif's demands. A dispute over judges had put the country on the brink of anarchy, with Zardari cracking down on dissent and placing Sharif under house arrest while protesters prepared for a mass march that threatened to topple the government.