This study explores the emergence of religious chauvinism in post 9/11 Pakistan in Aslam’s ‘The Blind Man’s Garden’. The rise of chauvinism and militant connotations is not only provenance of great disintegration but also a menace to a prestigious survival of the state, a setback to the moderate majority of Pakistanis that takes pride in their nationality. Some extremist voices, which, no doubt nationalist though they are, yet stigmatize the soft image of Pakistan and Islam due to a harsher stand and their infatuation with blind religiosity. Focusing on Aslam’s ‘The Blind Man’s Garden’ (2013), this article argues about how religious seminaries in Pakistan misinterpret religious scripts to distribute hate among the masses to create an ‘other’ that suits their ideology and politics. The paper argues that fundamentalization in general and institutional radicalization in particular, which through state-controlled mechanisms, are let loose to the extent that they not only control society but also challenge the writ of the state.
Nation, Nationalism, Chauvinism, Jingoism, Identity, Institutional Radicalization.
Nadeem Aslam’s novel, ‘The Blind Man’s Garden’ (2013), leavens with the subtlety of a writer who can reside in the hot mind of a Jihadist as naturally as he can in the lamenting soul of a country drowning in religious radicalism. Besides, the novel bridges the gap between the East and the West created by extremism through the Muslim protagonist, Mikal’s reconciliation with an American soldier.
Apart from a lacuna in the nationhood, the graph of Pakistani nationalism has been fluctuating up and down during the past ‘70’ years due to foreign hand, especially that of India and the USA. The ‘divide and rule policy by the USA continues to influence the Pakistani state and the people (Hussain et al., 2012). But the current wave of radicalization has really posed a menace to the very survival of Pakistan. Religious chauvinism is rising day by day, and the emerging face of the Pakistani nation is quite deplorable in the world community. Pakistan witnessed a rise of religious extremism in the form of sectarian terrorism, suicidal attacks, Church bombing attacks on minorities, the misuse of blasphemy laws, Governor Taseer’s assassination and the massacre of innocents at the Army Public School in Peshawar (Dawn, October 2015). Analyzing the deplorable state of Pakistan, Fateh Muhammad Malik opines that, “The whole debate about Pakistani culture revolves around two prongs: exclusivity and inclusivity” (Nayyar, 2019). Conviction in the exclusivity of its Islamic culture rebuffs the chances of any space for nonconformist impacts, whereas the thought of inclusiveness gives sufficient space to ‘other’ and ‘different’ social conventions. Fundamentalists have been steadfast devotees of the notion of exclusivity of the country’s customs. The Muslims of the Subcontinent has been fighting to construct an elite culture in accordance with Islamic teachings that ended in the creation of Pakistan. The inclusive idea of culture is essentially plural, yielding to numerous histories and conventions investigating conceivable outcomes of exchange and intercultural concordance. So, the ‘selective inclusive notion’ of culture has political underpinnings (Nayyar, 2019).
Nationalism in Pakistan
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