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Memoir: Bhutto Knew of Dangers in Her Return

Benazir Bhutto made the last few edits on her final book on the morning that she was assassinated. The former prime minister of Pakistan and popular opposition leader wrote the book as part history, part political manifesto, part memoir.

In Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West, Bhutto wrote that she hoped her return to Pakistan would be a catalyst for change in her homeland.

Bhutto knew of the potential dangers she faced, says Mark Siegel, Bhutto's longtime friend, who collaborated on the book. Bhutto wrote that she and her husband Asif Ali Zardari decided that he would not go back with her so that in case something happened, their children would not be left without a parent.

"She believed that God had a plan for her, and that plan was to help the people of Pakistan to restore democracy to Pakistan," Siegel tells Renee Montagne. "But she also believed that if something did happen to her, that too was God's will, and she accepted it."

In the book, being released Tuesday, Bhutto takes on the myth that Islam is incompatible with democracy.

"I think one of the most important things about this book was to make people in the West understand that Islam is a tolerant and pluralistic religion that is actually founded on the principles of democracy, and she lays them out quite clearly," Siegel says. "She takes the words of the Quran and demonstrates that these extremists are perverting the holy book."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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