Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West

Overview

Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October 2007, after eight years of exile, hopeful that she could be a catalyst for change. Upon a tumultuous reception, she survived a suicide-bomb attack that killed nearly two hundred of her countrymen. But she continued to forge ahead, with more courage and conviction than ever, since she knew that time was running out--for the future of her nation, and for her life.

In Reconciliation, Bhutto recounts in gripping detail her final months ...

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Overview

Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October 2007, after eight years of exile, hopeful that she could be a catalyst for change. Upon a tumultuous reception, she survived a suicide-bomb attack that killed nearly two hundred of her countrymen. But she continued to forge ahead, with more courage and conviction than ever, since she knew that time was running out--for the future of her nation, and for her life.

In Reconciliation, Bhutto recounts in gripping detail her final months in Pakistan and offers a bold new agenda for how to stem the tide of Islamic radicalism and to rediscover the values of tolerance and justice that lie at the heart of her religion. With extremist Islam on the rise throughout the world, the peaceful, pluralistic message of Islam has been exploited and manipulated by fanatics. Bhutto persuasively argues that America and Britain are fueling this turn toward radicalization by supporting groups that serve only short-term interests. She believed that by enabling dictators, the West was actually contributing to the frustration and extremism that lead to terrorism. With her experience governing Pakistan and living and studying in the West, Benazir Bhutto was versed in the complexities of the conflict from both sides. She was a renaissance woman who offered a way out.

In this riveting and deeply insightful book, Bhutto explores the complicated history between the Middle East and the West. She traces the roots of international terrorism across the world, including American support for Pakistani general Zia-ul-Haq, who destroyed political parties, eliminated an independent judiciary, marginalized NGOs, suspended the protection of human rights, and aligned Pakistani intelligence agencies with the most radical elements of the Afghan mujahideen. She speaks out not just to the West, but to the Muslims across the globe who are at a crossroads between the past and the future, between education and ignorance, between peace and terrorism, and between dictatorship and democracy. Democracy and Islam are not incompatible, and the clash between Islam and the West is not inevitable. Bhutto presents an image of modern Islam that defies the negative caricatures often seen in the West. After reading this book, it will become even clearer what the world has lost by her assassination.

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Editorial Reviews

Pamela Constable
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.
—The Washington Post
Fareed Zakaria
Written while she was preparing to re-enter political life, it is a book of enormous intelligence, courage and clarity. It contains the best-written and most persuasive modern interpretation of Islam I have read…Washington should arrange to have the portions of the book about Islam republished as a separate volume and translated into several languages. It would do more to win the battle of ideas within Islam than anything an American president could ever say.
—The New York Times
Madeleine Albright
“It is impossible to understand today’s world without knowing Pakistan; and impossible to understand Pakistan without reading this book. A courageous woman—tragically killed—speaks to us of reconciliation. We owe it to her—and to ourselves—to listen, comprehend, and act.”
Walter Isaacson
“This is one of the most gripping and important books of our era. It’s a brilliant manifesto for challenging radical Islam. Benazir Bhutto was an intense but charming woman driven by a crucial mission. Her death makes this beautiful book all the more poignant, and also more necessary.”
Arianna Huffington
“This is a courageous and powerful answer to hatred and intolerance, written by an extraordinary woman. Reading Benazir Bhutto’s Reconciliation shows just how much we lost with her death. You’ll finish it and mourn for what might have been.”
Joe Biden
“Benazir Bhutto will go down in history as a courageous leader who risked—and lost—her life in the service not only of her nation, but of values shared by us all. Anyone interested in Pakistan, democracy, or Islam should read this fascinating and important book.”
Ted Kennedy
“Benazir Bhutto’s book is a powerful and insightful analysis of the formidable challenges that confronted an extraordinary woman who paid the ultimate price for daring to attempt to bring democracy to Pakistan. President Kennedy would have called her a Profile in Courage.”
Peter Galbraith
“Pakistan has become the critical battlefield in the so-called war on terror. Reconciliation is the story of a courageous woman and her struggle for democracy and moderation in Islam. Benazir Bhutto, not the extremists who killed her, represented the vast majority of Pakistani Muslims.”
Nancy Pelosi
“This book is an eloquent reflection of traits which defined the life of Benazir Bhutto—an unshakable optimism about the future, a firm belief in the power of dialogue, and a commitment to democracy.The strength of her message of hope underscores how much was lost in her tragic death.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061567582
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/12/2008
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996, and the chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Born in 1953 in Karachi, Bhutto was the first woman ever to lead a Muslim state. She lived in exile from 1999 until her return to Pakistan in October 2007, two months before her assassination.

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Read an Excerpt

Reconciliation LP
Islam, Democracy, and the West
By Benazir Bhutto
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008 Benazir Bhutto
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061649431


Chapter One

The Path Back

As I stepped down onto the tarmac at Quaid-e-Azam International Airport in Karachi on October 18, 2007, I was overcome with emotion. Like most women in politics, I am especially sensitive to maintaining my composure, to never showing my feelings. A display of emotion by a woman in politics or government can be misconstrued as a manifestation of weakness, reinforcing stereotypes and caricatures. But as my foot touched the ground of my beloved Pakistan for the first time after eight lonely and difficult years of exile, I could not stop the tears from pouring from my eyes and I lifted my hands in reverence, in thanks, and in prayer. I stood on the soil of Pakistan in awe. I felt that a huge burden, a terrible weight, had been lifted from my shoulders. It was a sense of liberation. I was home at long last. I knew why. I knew what I had to do.

I had departed three hours earlier from my home in exile, Dubai. My husband, Asif, was to stay behind in Dubai with our two daughters, Bakhtawar and Aseefa. Asif and I had made a very calculated, difficult decision. We understood the dangers and the risks of my return, and we wanted to make sure that no matter whathappened, our daughters and our son, Bilawal (at college at Oxford), would have a parent to take care of them. It was a discussion that few husbands and wives ever have to have, thankfully. But Asif and I had become accustomed to a life of sacrificing our personal happiness and any sense of normalcy and privacy. Long ago I had made my choice. The people of Pakistan have always come first. The people of Pakistan will always come first. My children understood it and not only accepted it but encouraged me. As we said good-bye, I turned to the group of assembled supporters and press and said what was in my heart: "This is the beginning of a long journey for Pakistan back to democracy, and I hope my going back is a catalyst for change. We must believe that miracles can happen."

The stakes could not have been higher. Pakistan under military dictatorship had become the epicenter of an international terrorist movement that had two primary aims. First, the extremists' aim to reconstitute the concept of the caliphate, a political state encompassing the great Ummah (Muslim community) populations of the world, uniting the Middle East, the Persian Gulf states, South Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and parts of Africa. And second, the militants' aim to provoke a clash of civilizations between the West and an interpretation of Islam that rejects pluralism and modernity. The goal—the great hope of the militants—is a collision, an explosion between the values of the West and what the extremists claim to be the values of Islam.

Within the Muslim world there has been and continues to be an internal rift, an often violent confrontation among sects, ideologies, and interpretations of the message of Islam. This destructive tension has set brother against brother, a deadly fratricide that has tortured intra-Islamic relations for 1,300 years. This sectarian conflict stifled the brilliance of the Muslim renaissance that took place during the Dark Ages of Europe, when the great universities, scientists, doctors, and artists were all Muslim. Today that intra-Muslim sectarian violence is most visibly manifest in a senseless, self-defeating sectarian civil war that is tearing modern Iraq apart at its fragile seams and exercising its brutality in other parts of the world, especially in parts of Pakistan.

And as the Muslim world—where sectarianism is rampant—simmers internally, extremists have manipulated Islamic dogma to justify and rationalize a so-called jihad against the West. The attacks on September 11, 2001, heralded the vanguard of the caliphate-inspired dream of bloody confrontation; the Crusades in reverse. And as images of the twin towers burning and then imploding were on every television set in the world, the attack was received in two disparate ways in the Muslim world. Much, if not most, of the Muslim world reacted with horror, embarrassment, and shame when it became clear that this greatest terrorist attack in history had been carried out by Muslims in the name of Allah and jihad. Yet there was also another reaction, a troubling and disquieting one: Some people danced in the streets of Palestine. Sweets were exchanged by others in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Condemnations were few in the world's largest Muslim nation, Indonesia. The hijackers of September 11 seemed to touch a nerve of Muslim impotence. The burning and then collapsing towers represented, to some, resurgent Muslim power, a perverse Muslim payback for the domination of the West. To others it was a religious epiphany. And to still others it combined political, cultural, and religious assertiveness. A Pew comparative study of Muslims' attitudes after the attacks found that people in many Muslim countries "think it is good that Americans now know what it is like to be vulnerable."

One billion Muslims around the world seemed united in their outrage at the war in Iraq, damning the deaths of Muslims caused by U.S. military intervention without U.N. approval. But there has been little if any similar outrage against the sectarian civil war, which has led to far more casualties. Obviously (and embarrassingly), Muslim leaders, masses, and even intellectuals are quite comfortable criticizing outsiders for the harm inflicted on fellow Muslims, but there is deadly silence when they are confronted with Muslim-on-Muslim violence. That kind of criticism is not so politically convenient and certainly not politically correct. Even regarding Darfur, where there is an actual genocide being committed against a Muslim population, there has been a remarkable absence of protests, few objections, and no massive coverage on Arab or South Asian television.

We are all familiar with the data that pour forth from Western survey research centers and show an increasing contempt for and hostility to the West, and particularly the United States, in Muslim communities from Turkey to Pakistan. The war in Iraq is cited as a reason. The situation in Palestine is given as another reason. So-called decadent Western values are often part of the explanation. It is so much easier to blame others for our problems than to accept responsibility ourselves.



Continues...

Excerpted from Reconciliation LP by Benazir Bhutto Copyright © 2008 by Benazir Bhutto. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Note to the Reader vii

1 The Path Back 1

2 The Battle Within Islam: Democracy Versus Dictatorship, Moderation Versus Extremism 17

3 Islam and Democracy: History and Practice 81

4 The Case of Pakistan 157

5 Is the Clash of Civilizations Inevitable? 233

6 Reconciliation 275

Afterword 319

Acknowledgments 321

Notes 323

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First Chapter

Reconciliation
Islam, Democracy, and the West

Chapter One

The Path Back

As I stepped down onto the tarmac at Quaid-e-Azam International Airport in Karachi on October 18, 2007, I was overcome with emotion. Like most women in politics, I am especially sensitive to maintaining my composure, to never showing my feelings. A display of emotion by a woman in politics or government can be misconstrued as a manifestation of weakness, reinforcing stereotypes and caricatures. But as my foot touched the ground of my beloved Pakistan for the first time after eight lonely and difficult years of exile, I could not stop the tears from pouring from my eyes and I lifted my hands in reverence, in thanks, and in prayer. I stood on the soil of Pakistan in awe. I felt that a huge burden, a terrible weight, had been lifted from my shoulders. It was a sense of liberation. I was home at long last. I knew why. I knew what I had to do.

I had departed three hours earlier from my home in exile, Dubai. My husband, Asif, was to stay behind in Dubai with our two daughters, Bakhtawar and Aseefa. Asif and I had made a very calculated, difficult decision. We understood the dangers and the risks of my return, and we wanted to make sure that no matter what happened, our daughters and our son, Bilawal (at college at Oxford), would have a parent to take care of them. It was a discussion that few husbands and wives ever have to have, thankfully. But Asif and I had become accustomed to a life of sacrificing our personal happiness and any sense of normalcy and privacy. Long ago I had made my choice. The people of Pakistan have always come first. The people of Pakistan willalways come first. My children understood it and not only accepted it but encouraged me. As we said good-bye, I turned to the group of assembled supporters and press and said what was in my heart: "This is the beginning of a long journey for Pakistan back to democracy, and I hope my going back is a catalyst for change. We must believe that miracles can happen."

The stakes could not have been higher. Pakistan under military dictatorship had become the epicenter of an international terrorist movement that had two primary aims. First, the extremists' aim to reconstitute the concept of the caliphate, a political state encompassing the great Ummah (Muslim community) populations of the world, uniting the Middle East, the Persian Gulf states, South Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and parts of Africa. And second, the militants' aim to provoke a clash of civilizations between the West and an interpretation of Islam that rejects pluralism and modernity. The goal—the great hope of the militants—is a collision, an explosion between the values of the West and what the extremists claim to be the values of Islam.

Within the Muslim world there has been and continues to be an internal rift, an often violent confrontation among sects, ideologies, and interpretations of the message of Islam. This destructive tension has set brother against brother, a deadly fratricide that has tortured intra-Islamic relations for 1,300 years. This sectarian conflict stifled the brilliance of the Muslim renaissance that took place during the Dark Ages of Europe, when the great universities, scientists, doctors, and artists were all Muslim. Today that intra-Muslim sectarian violence is most visibly manifest in a senseless, self-defeating sectarian civil war that is tearing modern Iraq apart at its fragile seams and exercising its brutality in other parts of the world, especially in parts of Pakistan.

And as the Muslim world—where sectarianism is rampant—simmers internally, extremists have manipulated Islamic dogma to justify and rationalize a so-called jihad against the West. The attacks on September 11, 2001, heralded the vanguard of the caliphate-inspired dream of bloody confrontation; the Crusades in reverse. And as images of the twin towers burning and then imploding were on every television set in the world, the attack was received in two disparate ways in the Muslim world. Much, if not most, of the Muslim world reacted with horror, embarrassment, and shame when it became clear that this greatest terrorist attack in history had been carried out by Muslims in the name of Allah and jihad. Yet there was also another reaction, a troubling and disquieting one: Some people danced in the streets of Palestine. Sweets were exchanged by others in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Condemnations were few in the world's largest Muslim nation, Indonesia. The hijackers of September 11 seemed to touch a nerve of Muslim impotence. The burning and then collapsing towers represented, to some, resurgent Muslim power, a perverse Muslim payback for the domination of the West. To others it was a religious epiphany. And to still others it combined political, cultural, and religious assertiveness. A Pew comparative study of Muslims' attitudes after the attacks found that people in many Muslim countries "think it is good that Americans now know what it is like to be vulnerable."

One billion Muslims around the world seemed united in their outrage at the war in Iraq, damning the deaths of Muslims caused by U.S. military intervention without U.N. approval. But there has been little if any similar outrage against the sectarian civil war, which has led to far more casualties. Obviously (and embarrassingly), Muslim leaders, masses, and even intellectuals are quite comfortable criticizing outsiders for the harm inflicted on fellow Muslims, but there is deadly silence when they are confronted with Muslim-on-Muslim violence. That kind of criticism is not so politically convenient and certainly not politically correct. Even regarding Darfur, where there is an actual genocide being committed against a Muslim population, there has been a remarkable absence of protests, few objections, and no massive coverage on Arab or South Asian television.

We are all familiar with the data that pour forth from Western survey research centers and show an increasing contempt for and hostility to the West, and particularly the United States, in Muslim communities from Turkey to Pakistan. The war in Iraq is cited as a reason. The situation in Palestine is given as another reason. So-called decadent Western values are often part of the explanation. It is so much easier to blame others for our problems than to accept responsibility ourselves.

Reconciliation
Islam, Democracy, and the West
. Copyright © by Benazir Bhutto. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2008

    Greatly needed insight into the greatest challenge to the world.

    Benazir Bhutto impressed me not just as a charismatic politician but also as an eloquent and genius writer. This book explores the root causes of unrest in Muslim world and the threat Muslim fanatics (esp. Taliban and Al-Qaida) are posing to the civilized world. Her book reflects her deep desire to bring democracy to her unfortunate country-Pakistan, which is clearly heading to be the next Afghanistan under Taliban's flag, and the consequences are just too horrific to even think about.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2008

    Regrettable apologia

    It is tragic and ironic when such a personally courageous woman as Benazir Bhutto leaves a legacy of unrealistic if not idealistic views of her own country and religion together with such faultfinding on the part of the Christian world for what it supposedly did not do to 'encourage' democratic thinking and action in the larger Muslim world. According to the author, if only the West, read Britain, France and the USA had not consorted with various Islamic despots of one kind or another during the past 100 years the Islamic world would now be well on the way to productive and compatible co-existence with the rest of the world. While she admits that her own world carries some responsibility for its current plight, it is only grudgingly given. The outer, Western world is the real culprit. Mrs. Bhutto may well have had her reasons for trying to create even more guilt feelings on the part of Western liberals than are already obvious in these people's misconceptions of the world as it really is, it is not clear to me how this approach by the former Pakistani Prime Minister is likely to encourage the Muslim world to rid itself of its radicalism if it really wants to participate in the world instead of trying to blow it up. The current threat of Islamic radicalism was not caused by whatever the West supposedly did to the Muslim world, it rather stems from a much older streak of atavistic Islamic irrationalism going back to the 14th century, with the aim of returning the Islamic world, if not the whole globe, to the 7th century A.D. Unless the Muslim world comes to its senses and proceeds forthwith with the task of eradicating this evil, murderous movement there is little the Western world can do except to defend itself with whatever means may be appropriate and at whatever cost it may incur. For Mrs. Bhutto to blame the West for all the age-old and pernicious problems of her world is disingenuous and not helpful in ridding the world of this poisonous new Damocleian sword hanging over all our heads. The book is a tragic and misguided legacy to leave behind.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2008

    A reviewer

    Reconciliation is a wonderful book! To read a woman with such courage to look at her past and push beyond that to change a world. This book should spark a kind of courage and love in all of us to try to be as special and loving as this woman was. I was sad to hear of her assasination, but her light will continue to shine in the people she touched!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2008

    Impossible To Resist Retrospection, But An Opportunity To Look Forward.

    This book is great for anyone looking into Islam, both past and present, American Foreign Policy, both Colonialism and Cold War eras, Problems that face the Middle-East, such as Fundamentalism and Militancy, Pakistan, a thorough overview and its importance. After reading this book, the reader will be able to take away another perspective, one that is universal. Benazir Bhutto, along with both family and non-family relations have given their lives fighting for Democracy, a creed that some take for granted. May her and the many others be watched over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2008

    Bridging the gap between Islam and the West

    Born into a family of leaders in the country of Pakistan, Bhutto follows in her father's footsteps in an effort to bring about positive change in her country ruled by corrupt dictators and military juntas. In an attempt to reshape the future of impoverished Islamic nations, she explains the negative and unfortunate impact that the West's involvement had in Middle Eastern countries over the last century which paved the way for the corrupt and regressive rule of dictators that were enabled their power, and the resulting resentment and distrust these countries have for us. But she is also careful to lay blame on the waywardness and contamination of modern Islam by extremists who have twisted the once peaceful, inclusive, and technologically advanced ideology to justify their own perverse and selfish ends. Being a victim of terror herself, she bravely calls for reform in her beloved religion and cites similar statements of change from many Islamic scholars with like attitudes. She asserts that Islam and democracy are indeed compatible and strives tirelessly to bring democratic changes to her country, all which threaten the rule of those currently enjoying power. She provides a good model prescription for the democratization and improvement of third-world countries. She clarifies the idea of the Clash of Civilizations being not a conflict of East and West, but rather it is a conflict within Islam itself: modernism vs. regression, reformists vs. traditionalists, freedom and education vs. oppression and ignorance. Prosperity is attainable by all in Islam, peace and reconciliation between East and West possible, and the goal can be reached if only we have the courage to promote and implement democratic ideas. Whether you are Muslim or not, hers is a book that will bring you a clearer understanding of Middle Eastern affairs, its relationship to the west, and the universal call that must be heeded by the world. Her loss was great indeed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2008

    An Eye Opener!!!!

    This was one of the most pivotal books that I have ever read. I have never read anything like this before. If you are looking for both sides of the story you can not pass up this this book. This book has given me new perspective. I would recomend this book to anyone, the well read or the novice. Mrs. Bhutto's book is definitely worth your time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2008

    From the eyes of a truely inspirational woman

    When I saw this book in Barnes & Noble, I was interested. I'd heard Benazir Bhutto's story on the radio since last fall, when she was going back to Pakistan. I picked up Reconciliation, started reading it, and HAD to have it. It's been so incredible reading about everything that has happened from Benazir Bhutto's point of view, not to mention gaining some much-needed insight into the Middle East and Islam and how important Democrazy is to her and why, and how important this issue is in our world today and always.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2008

    A reviewer

    This is a great book. I recommend reading the novel 'Detained Differences' by J. Robert Rowe first, it will put things into better perspective for everyone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2009

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