Bhutto’s Words of Warning

From The Washington Post:

There are some things only the dead can get away with saying, and some deaths speak more powerfully than anything the living can write. This book, finished just before its author was assassinated in Pakistan in December, sends out an urgent warning to her fellow Muslims and to Western democratic powers — a warning one hopes may now find greater resonance with both audiences.

Book_2 Benazir Bhutto, the elegant former Pakistani prime minister, hoped to return democratic rule to her native country and knew she stood a good chance of being killed in the process. She was rushing to complete “Reconciliation” when she was slain at a political rally, her death transforming this manifesto into a cry from the grave to save her faith, her homeland and East-West relations from looming catastrophe.

Her book argues that Islam is not incompatible with democracy, but that its credo of tolerance and freedom has been hijacked by purveyors of terror. The real “clash of civilizations” lies within Islam, she asserted, and the West should seek to bolster its moderate center as the best means of countering the radical extremes.

A poised public figure given to flowery speeches and cagey ambiguity, Bhutto wrote the book with uncharacteristic bluntness, suggesting an awareness that both she and her country had little time left. Pointing fingers and naming names — especially those of several chiefs of Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service — she blamed a combination of autocratic rulers, manipulative religious leaders and meddling Western governments for sabotaging democracy’s chances in Pakistan and other parts of the Muslim world, and for pushing Islam in ever more radical directions.

“Islam was sent as a message of liberation. The challenge for modern-day Muslims is to rescue this message from the fanatics, the bigots, and the forces of dictatorship,” she wrote. Describing Pakistan as “ground zero” in the battle for the soul of Islam, she warned that unless religious extremism there is curbed, the consequences of having “the only nuclear-armed Muslim nation fall into chaos would be catastrophic.”

More here.