Benazir’s blueprint

Kamila Shamsie in The Guardian:

Books1402benazirbhutto_2 There can be few experiences more disquieting than that of reading the opening pages of Benazir Bhutto’s Reconciliation, with its description of her homecoming on October 18 2007 – the jubilation followed by carnage. The details of the suicide attack are horrific enough within their own context, but when read as precursor to the attack that killed Bhutto 10 weeks later they acquire an even more chilling resonance. There is the sense of reading two texts: the first might well have been published during the early months of Bhutto’s premiership, its words a yardstick against which we would measure the effectiveness of her government; the second stands as the final testament of an extraordinary woman whose death added urgency to the already-urgent arguments of the book.

Bhutto lays out her own blueprint for the defeat of extremism by concerted efforts involving both Muslims and the west. Some of those ideas seem unrealistic. In particular, her suggestion that the oil-producing Gulf states “jump-start economic and intellectual development” in the rest of the Muslim world via a Muslim Investment Fund contradicts her own argument that states act in self-interest rather than as part of a pan-national religious community, and also ignores the dismal record of many oil-producing nations in promoting intellectual development within their own borders. She ends the book by acknowledging that her proposals “may seem daunting and even impossible. I make these recommendations because the times demand something more than business as usual . . . It is a time for creativity. It is a time for bold commitment. . . There has been enough pain. It is time for reconciliation.”

It may be tempting to think her death undermines her belief in what was yet possible, but it seems more in keeping with the spirit of Reconciliation to say that there are ways to counter those who use violence to further their ends. We just can’t wait until tomorrow to do it.

More here.