Know Thy Neigh­bour

IN IN­DIA ON A BOOK TOUR WITH HER FIRST NOVEL, THE FI­ESTY AU­THOR COUNTS DOWN THE NINE ES­SEN­TIAL THINGS WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT OUR NEIGH­BOUR ACROSS THE BOR­DER

India Today - - CONTENTS - FA­TIMA BHUTTO

On a book tour in In­dia, Fa­tima Bhutto counts down the nine es­sen­tial things we should know about Pak­istan.

1 WE’RE THE WARM­EST PEO­PLE

Pak­ista­nis are the warm­est peo­ple you will ever meet. They will open their homes and their lives to strangers. I’ve trav­elled around the world but am yet to visit a coun­try whose peo­ple are warmer.

2 WE HAVE A GREAT SENSE OF HU­MOUR

The im­ages you see about us are usu­ally very som­bre or se­ri­ous but Pak­ista­nis are very funny peo­ple. They have a great way of bring­ing light and hu­mour to a sit­u­a­tion. It’s not mean or vi­cious but a sar­cas­tic and nu­anced way of look­ing at life.

3 OUR WOMEN ARE IN­CRED­I­BLY BRAVE

If I can gen­er­alise, be­sides be­ing beau­ti­ful and in­tel­li­gent, Pak­istani women are ex­tremely brave. You have to be, if you are a woman liv­ing in a dif­fi­cult en­vi­ron­ment.

4 WE PRAY TO­GETHER

Sind, where I come from, has an in­cred­i­bly di­verse cul­ture. It has a Hindu and Sufi cul­ture. The peo­ple here, which in­clude Par­sis and Jains share saints and sa­cred places. When you travel around Sind you see the most beau­ti­ful shrines across the prov­ince. There are shrines in Dadu where Hin­dus and Mus­lims come to pray to­gether.

5 5 POETRY IS BELOVED

We have a rich can­non of po­ets from Faiz Ahmed Faiz and the rev­o­lu­tion­ary poet Habib Jalib among many re­mark­able oth­ers. Poetry is beloved in Pak­istan. It has al­ways been a way for writ­ers to ex­press dis­sent or raise po­lit­i­cal voices and they man­age to do it beau­ti­fully.

6 OUR MU­SIC IS RAD­I­CAL

I don’t think any­one is do­ing the kind of cre­ative, bound­ary­break­ing mu­sic like Pak­istani mu­si­cians are do­ing to­day. It’s pretty rad­i­cal. They are re­ally good at mix­ing up gen­res, whether it is clas­si­cal with the mod­ern and the tra­di­tional.

7 OUR DAY-TO-DAY LIVES ARE JUST LIKE YOURS

Pak­istan is al­ways de­picted in the news like a James Bond film; there’s al­ways some­thing hor­ri­ble hap­pen­ing. But in re­al­ity we live nor­mal, of­ten ba­nal lives, just like you do in In­dia. There is a lot of com­mon­al­i­ties be­tween our cities. As coun­tries we are sib­lings and Mum­bai and Karachi are twin cities. As are Delhi and La­hore. They are al­most iden­ti­cal in at­mos­phere and vibe.

8 YOUTH CON­NECT

Like In­dia, we also have a huge youth pop­u­la­tion. The youth in Pak­istan is very hope­ful. They want har­mony and to con­nect with their neigh­bours. They should have more op­por­tu­ni­ties to do so.

9 OUR WRIT­ERS ARE BREAK­ING SI­LENCES

The new writ­ing com­ing out of Pak­istan is brave and is break­ing si­lences and giv­ing a new face to lit­er­a­ture not just in Pak­istan but across Asia.

WRITE STUFF: Bhutto was in New Delhi to pro­mote her first work of fic­tion, The­Shad­owOf TheCres­cent Moon. (Vik­ing) Price 499, Pages 232

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