“Home is the peo­ple you love, it’s not a geog­ra­phy”

— Fa­tima Bhutto, Pak­istani writer

Gulf Times Community - - COVER STORY -

What­ever the state of pol­i­tics be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan may be, the cit­i­zens of the neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, sep­a­rated at birth, are nat­u­rally drawn to each other and you can­not stop that, says Fa­tima Bhutto, niece of for­mer Pak­istani prime min­is­ter Be­nazir Bhutto and grand­daugh­ter of Zul­fikar Ali Bhutto, him­self the first pop­u­larly elected chief ex­ec­u­tive of the coun­try.

Ace writer and au­thor Fa­tima her­self, though, has stayed away from pol­i­tics — and a blood­ied po­lit­i­cal saga re­sem­bling a Greek tragedy may be to blame, which has seen her fa­ther, aunt, grand­fa­ther and an un­cle die un­nat­u­ral deaths.

She said there has al­ways been “great warmth” be­tween the peo­ple of the two coun­tries, and that she has per­son­ally been a wit­ness to it.

“Whether it’s Pak­istani se­ri­als or In­dian films, art or books, as a peo­ple we are nat­u­rally drawn to each other and open and cu­ri­ous to learn more... Art has al­ways bro­ken bar­ri­ers — it’s al­ways been a pow­er­ful way for peo­ple to con­nect and com­mu­ni­cate with each other and I think the ease of the In­ter­net has helped us over­come phys­i­cal ob­sta­cles,” the 36-year-old writer, who has been a critic of Be­nazir Bhutto, and her hus­band Asif Ali Zar­dari, whom she ac­cused of be­ing in­volved in her fa­ther’s mur­der, told IANS in an e-mail in­ter­view from Karachi.

Asif Zar­dari is a for­mer pres­i­dent and co-chair­per­son of the Bhut­tos’ Pak­istan Peo­ple’s Party now headed in name by his son Bi­lawal, Fa­tima’s first cousin.

She re­called that, in the year gone by, she read books by sev­eral In­dian au­thors on­line and even dis­cov­ered au­thors she had not read be­fore such as Gurme­har Kaur, Supriya Nair and Raghu Kar­nad.

“No amount of down­fall any­where can stop me from seek­ing out new and in­ter­est­ing voices.”

How­ever, the cul­tural ex­changes be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan have hit rock bot­tom in the past two years, with only books be­ing the ex­cep­tion. On this be­ing pointed out, and asked of her pre­scrip­tion for en­rich­ing peo­ple-to-peo­ple ties be­tween the two coun­tries, Fa­tima urged peo­ple to en­gage with each other’s cre­ative and pop­u­lar cul­tures.

“What we must do is keep in­sist­ing that we want to read each other, want to speak to each other and re­ject at­tempts to in­ter­rupt that,” she said.

In­ter­est­ingly, her novel The Ru­n­aways — about rad­i­cal­ism and the con­fu­sions of mil­len­nial cul­ture and how dif­fi­cult it is to

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