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Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto
2 Jan 2008
Benazir Bhutto: In Her Own Words

Between April 1996 and January 1997, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto wrote a weekly newspaper column that was … Read More.

20 Jan 1997
Benazir Bhutto, January 20, 1997

Note to Creators.com readers: We are offering Benazir Bhutto's complete collection of syndicated columns for … Read More.

6 Jan 1997
Benazir Bhutto, January 6, 1997

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Benazir Bhutto, December 9, 1996

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Note to Creators.com readers: We are offering Benazir Bhutto's complete collection of syndicated columns for the interest of our readers. Please visit our news page for a complete chronological list, or you may browse our archives by month with the drop down menu on this page.

You can find current Creators Syndicate content dealing with Ms. Bhutto's career and assassination by visiting our news item.

Recently, the front pages of American newspapers have been filled with reports of foreign meddling in U.S. politics, with large sums of money coming in from ominous, shady characters. And, while I don't know whether the specific allegations are true or not, this whole controversy leaves me profoundly disturbed.

All too often, the news stories highlight malevolent Asian interests as the driving force behind this scandal. Intentionally or not, they paint Asian corporations and governments as nefarious entities, with goals and motivations in direct conflict with American values. But this just isn't the case, and we cannot allow the future of an East-West alliance to be jeopardized by petty demagoguery.

The roots of this type of thinking can be traced all the way back to the illustrious historian Arnold Toynbee and his concept of the rise and fall of civilizations. Toynbee saw history as a giant stage on which philosophies, ideologies and religions battled for superiority. As one colossus fell, another rose from the rubble.

But history is not a zero-sum game. It is not only about crusades and conquering but also about the amazing ties that hold us together. The similarities between Western and Eastern culture are too strong to ignore.

For instance, during the European renaissance — the birth of modern Western civilization — another renaissance was taking place on the Indian subcontinent. The Medicis of Italy were contemporaries of the Mughal civilization. Both placed emphasis on the concept of the city as a center of justice. Both had similar ideas of beauty, filling their homes with trees, flowers and fountains. The processions, public displays and fireworks that marked the annual carnival at Sienna closely resemble the spring festival of Basant, celebrated in the ancient city of Lahore.

But the similarities don't end there.

Great Western architectural achievements such as St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome are matched in magnificence by structures like the Emperor's Mosque in Lahore, the biggest mosque in the world. The Shalamar gardens mirror the grandeur of the Villa Borghese.

Both courts were the centers of cultural excellence and enlightened patronage of the arts, as well. Artists were part of every royal ceremony, with access to the great events of their time, which is reflected in the sophistication of their creations.

The world has witnessed many changes and upheavals since the Renaissance. The industrial revolution and the development of nation-states were followed by the Western imperialism. From the ashes of two world wars emerged half a century of peace in Europe while Asia and the Middle East have been troubled by numerous conflicts.

Nevertheless, there is now a global convergence toward the legitimacy of democracy, peace, security and sustainable development. But this unity is not just the result of Western development and achievement — it is also the long-awaited flowering of the Eastern culture from seeds planted in long-ago Mughal dynasty. The traditions and values of that age continue to play an important factor in our lives today — and perhaps Western nations might find them more appealing than the moral relativism of the late 20th century.

In the East, we cherish the family as the basic unit of society, preserving the sanctity of marriage. We do not see this as fetters on free sex, but rather the freedom to live and grow together. We care for our old parents, as we know there is still much we can learn from them. The Eastern culture also continues to place emphasis on the welfare of society as a whole and the responsibility of the state to meet the basic needs of health, education and to provide a system of social insurance.

The East and West have both had their ups and downs. At a time in history when Europeans were still living in caves, those in the Indus Valley lived in towns and cities. Today, the West enjoys a higher standard of living, but no one should think this is jeopardized by growth in the East. Rather, we are all equal citizens of one world.

So, before the next allegation is made or shady deal uncovered, we should stop and make sure we aren't dividing ourselves into "us" and "them." We have too much in common to only note of our differences.

COPYRIGHT 1996, CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



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