By: Utpal Borpujari
“The right wing Hinduvta organizations who claimed responsibility for the attacks on a Mangalore pub are no different from Al Qaida in at least one aspect – they constitute a tiny minority that has nothing to do with the tenets of their religions.”
At least that’s what eminent Pakistani author Nadeem Aslam, whose latest novel The Wasted Vigil takes a strong geopolitical look at the war-ravaged Afghanistan, believes.
Aslam, who just attended the Jaipur Literary Festival and is scheduled to have a reading of his novel in Delhi on Thursday, is aghast that such fringe elements are cornering so much space in public discourse just using their muscle power.
“I know that those people who broke up that pub in Mangalore has nothing to do with my Hindu friends, who are almost like my family members, for whom Hinduism is something else. Like Al Qaida they are also the fringe, and that fringe has to be defeated,” the London-based author told Deccan Herald in an exclusive interview.
In fact, Aslam, whose previous novel Maps of the Lost Lovers had won several awards, is also strongly critical of how forces like Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) has been acting as an extra-constitutional force in Mumbai and other places, he himself being an indirect victim of that.
“I was scheduled to have a reading of my book in Mumbai too after Delhi. But people were slightly apprehensive, saying that a Pakistani author was going to give a reading in Mumbai. Nothing perhaps would have happened, but I do read that Pakistani writers have been taken off the shelves,” he says.
“I am not going to Mumbai because of that, and it is a really terrible feeling, because it is a tiny minority in both our countries and everywhere else, but just because they are stronger than us, because their muscles are stronger than us and because we are weak, they are having their way,” says Aslam.
Aslam is upset that Pakistani performing artistes are facing hurdles in Mumbai thanks to political forces like MNS and Shiv Sena, but he hopes to have a reading of his book in the Maximum city soon.
“Of course, I will go to Mumbai when it blows over, I will come back in a few months. India occupies such a great place in your imagination if you are from Pakistan. If you are a Pakistani and told that you will be taken to India, it’s like taking a child to an enchanted land. We are all alike, just our rulers and the tiny minority of trouble makers just won’t let us be,” he says.