Asia Crisis

HarperCollins rushes to publish Bhutto's last book

LONDON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - HarperCollins will rush out a book submitted by former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto just days before her Dec. 27 assassination, it said on Monday.

The publisher, a unit of News Corp, said it was bringing forward the release of "Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West" to Feb. 12 "with the full support of her family and advisors".

HarperCollins had given Bhutto, two-time prime minister and a leading opposition figure, an estimated $75,000 advance just before she returned to Pakistan in October after years of living in exile, according to a report in the New York Post.

Mark Siegel worked with Bhutto as a collaborating writer, the Post reported.

In a statement from New York, HarperCollins described "Reconciliation" as "a bold, uncompromising vision of hope for the future of not only Pakistan but the Islamic world".

"Bhutto presents a powerful argument for a reconciliation of Islam with democratic principles, in the face of opposition from Islamic extremists and Western sceptics."

The Pakistani government blamed al Qaeda for the gun and bomb attack against Bhutto in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, but supporters in her Pakistan People's Party have aired deep suspicions over the motives and identities of the assassins.

The book will feature a short afterword by Bhutto's husband and her children.

"No one could have known that these would be Benazir Bhutto's final words, and somehow that makes them carry even more weight, especially at a time like this," said Tim Duggan, the editor at HarperCollins who acquired the rights to the book.

"This book is her legacy." (Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Michael Winfrey)