India rose due to middle class: Benazir's book

  • PTI, London
  • |
  • Updated: Feb 03, 2008 14:16 IST

India's rise as a regional and international power was due to the fact that its middle class "exploded into a huge economic and political force," former Pakistan Premier Benazir Bhutto wrote in a posthumous autobiography.

"Democracy cannot be sustained in the absence of a stable and growing middle class. The growth of India into a regional and international economic power occurred - not coincidentally - as its middle class exploded into a huge economic and political force," Bhutto said in the autobiography excerpted in The Sunday Times.

Posing the question "How can a nation build a middle class? she wrote: "The first key is to build an education system that delivers hope and real opportunity. Good public educational opportunity is the key to the economic and political progress of nations, and it can be so in the Islamic world as well."

But in Pakistan 4.5 billion dollars is spent on the military each year - an astounding 1,400 per cent more than on education, Bhuuto said in the book.

"Militant madrassas did not flourish there because Pakistani citizens suddenly became more religiously orthodox than ever before in our history. The militants took advantage of parents from low-income social classes who wanted a better life for their children.

"If parents are so poor that they cannot educate, house, clothe, feed and provide healthcare for their children and the state fails to provide such basic human needs through public services, they will seek an alternative. The militant madrassas have become, over time, an alternative government for millions of Pakistanis," she said.

Bhutto's book also describes how a suicide bomb attack on her motorcade in Karachi when she returned home last October may have been carried out by a would-be assassin who lined the clothes of a toddler with plastic explosive to turn the child into a bomb.

According to Bhutto, a man gestured to her to hold the child, before trying to hand it to police in a nearby van, which exploded soon afterwards.

"Later I was informed of a meeting that had taken place in Lahore where the bomb blasts were planned. According to this report, three men belonging to a rival political faction were hired for half a million dollars. They were, according to my sources, named Ejaz, Sajjad and another whose name I forget."

One of them died accidentally because he couldn't get away fast enough before the detonation, she said. "Presumably this was the one holding the baby. However, a bomb maker was needed for the bombs."


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