Military dictatorship is born from the power of the gun, and so it undermines the concept of the rule of law and gives birth to a culture of might, a culture of weapons, violence and intolerance.
I have led an unusual life. I have buried a father killed at age 50 and two brothers killed in the prime of their lives. I raised my children as a single mother when my husband was arrested and held for eight years without a conviction - a hostage to my political career.
As a woman leader, I thought I brought a different kind of leadership. I was interested in women's issues, in bringing down the population growth rate... as a woman, I entered politics with an additional dimension - that of a mother.
Pakistan's future viability, stability and security lie in empowering its people and building political institutions. My goal is to prove that the fundamental battle for the hearts and minds of a generation can be accomplished only under democracy.
I found that a whole series of people opposed me simply on the grounds that I was a woman. The clerics took to the mosque saying that Pakistan had thrown itself outside the Muslim world and the Muslim umar by voting for a woman, that a woman had usurped a man's place in the Islamic society.
Whatever my aims and agendas were, I never asked for power.
I seek to lead a democratic Pakistan which is free from the yoke of military dictatorship and that will cease to be a haven, the very petri dish of international terrorism.
The next few months are critical to Pakistan's future direction as a democratic state committed to promoting peace, fighting terrorism and working for social justice.
I was a very shy girl who led an insulated life; it was only when I came to Oxford, and to Harvard before that, that suddenly I saw the power of people. I didn't know such a power existed, I saw people criticising their own president; you couldn't do that in Pakistan - you'd be thrown in prison.
My father was the Prime Minister of Pakistan. My grandfather had been in politics, too; however, my own inclination was for a job other than politics. I wanted to be a diplomat, perhaps do some journalism - certainly not politics.
America's greatest contribution to the world is its concept of democracy, its concept of freedom, freedom of action, freedom of speech, and freedom of thought.
Extremism can flourish only in an environment where basic governmental social responsibility for the welfare of the people is neglected. Political dictatorship and social hopelessness create the desperation that fuels religious extremism.
A people inspired by democracy, human rights and economic opportunity will turn their back decisively against extremism.
The Holy Book calls upon Muslims to resist tyranny. Dictatorships in Pakistan, however long, have, therefore, always collapsed in the face of this spirit.
Democracy is necessary to peace and to undermining the forces of terrorism.
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