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Home > India > News > PTI

India rose due to its middle class: Benazir Bhutto

February 03, 2008 19:21 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 [Images] 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 wrote 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 is spent on the military each year, an astounding 1,400 per cent more than on education," Bhutto said in the book.

"Militant madrasas 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," she wrote.

"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 madrasas have become, over time, an alternative government for millions of Pakistanis," she said.

"These political and military training camps invest little time and resources in primary education. Rather, they manipulate religion to brainwash children into becoming soldiers of an irregular army. They teach hatred and violence. They breed terrorists, not scientists. They undermine the very concept of national identity and rule of law," Bhutto wrote.

She claimed that during her tenure as prime minister, she invested enormous political resources in stopping these 'paramilitary political madrasas'. "But unfortunately, in the years since I left office, as many as 20,000 new ones have been built in Pakistan alone," Bhutto wrote.

She observed, "As the Muslim world simmers internally, extremists have manipulated Islamic dogma to justify and rationalise 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".

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