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Back in 1959, I, Nirupama Rao, was an 8 year old school going girl in the city of Lucknow. I would sit by my father’s side listening to the news and radio broadcasts. That was when I discovered the hostility against my home country, India. And for an eight year old me, this was unfathomable. And then there was Fatima Jinnah- sister of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Jinnah – who I refer to as ‘the voice’. ‘The voice’ that crackled through radio every night delivering a constant diatribe against India. This was my introduction to politics of subcontinent, to Kashmir and to the tangled history of India and Pakistan.

Almost 70 years since Independence and India’s partition from Pakistan, the innocent children of both countries are fed the fallacies of ignorance and propaganda of the other country. Both the countries are nuclear powers are now and both like to blow the trumpet about their nuclear possessions and the mass destruction each one is capable of. Sometimes I think, can we not talk beyond war and peace? Can we think of a South Asian Commons - a space for maturity in seeking peaceful purposes and agendas, harmonial civility and mutual accommodation? Women in India and Pakistan both care similarly for our homes, children and life. We both want literacy, liberation from age old patriarchic hierarchies, and safe and secure empowerment.

Isn’t it time for a feminist foreign policy? A policy that would speak in favor of rationalizing unities, building synergies, merging capacities, and blocking wars. It would weigh humanitarianism against the vested interests of power and politics. Can India and Pakistan not have courage to think beyond the differences and learn the art of mutual accommodation?

As Vijayalakshmi Pandit said “Let us sweat in peace, not bleed in war”

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