“Home is the people you love, it’s not a geography”
— Fatima Bhutto, Pakistani writer
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