Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto warmed Indian hearts when she said that “you are like me.”
The 29-year-old Bhutto was the star attraction at the recently concluded Kovalam Literary Festival in Kerala, where she delivered the sixth KC john Memorial Lecture on India and Pakistan: Road to Peace.
Dressed in a flowing sari which belonged to her grandmother and similar to those worn commonly by Indian women, this was Fatima’s first trip to the southernmost tip of the Indian sub-continent.
The granddaughter of slain Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and niece of Benazir Bhutto, the country's first female prime minister, who was killed in 2007, Fatima's father Murtaza Bhutto was gunned down in a political battle in 1996.
Fatima was a teenager at that time, and ever since, she has condemned violent extremism. The Karachi-based writer believes that the road to peace between India and Pakistan will have to be mapped by building on the shared heritage and the common social malaise confronting the two nations. And the onus of the task lies with the youth.
"We the people of India and Pakistan are the same. You are like me. We need more people-to-people contact to promote peace. Our destinies as countries are inextricably linked as our past were... Justice is within the borders and not outside it.
Despite being separated at birth and with a shared heritage, India and Pakistan have created an enormous gulf between their people. They cannot visit each other's country without going through enormous official procedure.
India and Pakistan over the centuries have shared something hopeful, peaceful - a joint heritage that modern day hostilities could not erase.
But there is lack of coordination. We could develop policies together. But we don't do that - instead we feed the world when the hungry in our country starve.
India and Pakistan have the largest migration history in the world with the biggest displacement... When we parted, the world shook.
The freedom movement was iconic but the only problem was that we quickly turned on ourselves. What Pakistan did to India, Bangladesh did to Pakistan. Punjab was almost a holocaust.
Trade between India and Pakistan is a fraction of the trade that we do with strangers. Trade between the two countries was much larger and we should be giving 40 billion dollars in trade. Many other arch rivals have better trade ties,” concludes Fatima convinced that young Indians and Pakistanis can counter violent extremism in South Asia.