This research identifies that Nadeem Aslam, a Pakistani-born English writer helps to reflect the socio-cultural problems and tribulations suffered by Pakistani women. The examination of Nadeem Aslam novels helps to illustrate the appalling and subaltern conditions faced by Pak-Afghanistan women and the role of male heteropatriarchy in the oppression of women. This novel helps reflect the actual socio-cultural conditions of Pakistani, Afghanistan, and immigrant women whose conditions are mainly dictated by male counterparts, and whose conditions remain deplorable as a consequence of long-standing socio-cultural practices. A key observation from the analysis of the existing scholarship shows that Pakistani women are prone to psychological trauma while Afghanistan women are mostly subjected to physical harm and abuse.
This research brings forth a hidden and interesting observation of the fact that Pak-Afghan women not only face oppression and subjugation from males but also their elderly women counterparts. Elderly women are quite conversant with the struggles and subjugations they have endured over the years, and instead of exercising caution to their fellow younger women, they entrench similar exploitative tendencies as men. This research identifies that the plight of Pak-Afghanistan women is a contribution of both the male patriarchal culture and continuity of the same culture by elderly women. As seen in case examples, Tara does not support Naheed to successfully finish her higher education and she goes further to coerce her to accept a second marriage. The research further brings to fore the fact that in the Blind’s Man Garden, men do not force ladies for second marriages; rather, elderly women are seen as catalysts for second marriages.
A special observation from the research is the psychological trauma faced by women during wartimes. The novels illustrate the depression that women face during physical confrontations and terror attacks. In wartime, females are shown to be going through psychological trauma as illustrated in "The Blind Man's garden," when Geo is killed in the Afghan war and Naheed is at crossroads on how to deal with the demise. People around Naheed disrespect her despite being a widow and a wife to a martyr. In "The Wasted Vigil," women go through psychological and physical abuse as they deal with the consequences of terror and physical violence. The novel depicts the deplorable conditions of women who are exchanged for sexual purposes among warlords. The women are portrayed as a symbol of sexual gratification and this continues to entrench their plight and demonstrate the psychological balance they face among the hands of a few powerful combatants. As a result, this research identifies that physical violence, conflict, and terror continue to entrench psychological and emotional abuse and violence against women.
This research further goes ahead to examine the role of the church and the role of the state in the socio-cultural position of Pak-Afghanistan women. The ideological state apparatus is exploited by those in authority and power like the clerics to brainwash the masses and define the deplorable position of women. For instance, the clerics in the Islamic state intentionally misquote the Quran's teachings to orchestrate the marginalization and subjugation of women. Islamic history is also routinely misquoted in favor of male patriarchy and female subjugation; and this fact is well mirrored in the Maps for Lost Lovers. In the novel, Kaukab’s father is a renowned cleric who marries his daughter to a boy whom the daughter had no feelings for simply because it conformed to the Islamic traditions. Throughout the novel, it is clear that the Islamic religion and state orchestrate male patriarchy and further define the deplorable conditions that Pak-Afghanistan women face.
A key observation from the research is the influence of the unwritten social law against the fundamental freedom of choice and self-determination. The fundamental human right of self-determination prescribes that it is against the freedom of choice to prevent a man or woman from marrying a desired person. The novels bring to light the fact that Pakistani and Afghanistan women do not reserve the right to marriage since this choice is determined by either the parents of the religious leaders. The women were prohibited from going outside and if found with a male suitor or friend, they were perceived as unholy, unclean, and sexually compromised. More often than not, the novels identify that girls have been forced to miscarriages if the husbands die during pregnancy. As observed in the case of Naheed. For example, Mah-Jabin and Suraya are forced for second marriages and are treated as a commodity. This research brings to light the fact that in the Pakistani and Afghanistan marriage scenarios and space, a widow encumbered with a child fetches a low price and such ideologies have been entrenched over the years. Thus, this research identifies that marriage itself is converted into an instrument of exploitation and subalternity against women.
This concluding section identifies the source of illiteracy and low education levels among Pak-Afghanistan women. The structural inequities in educational access between males and women are well portrayed. In “The Blind Man’s Garden,” Naheed who is the widow of a martyr (Joe) who died in Afghanistan fails to receive aid and help from the Government and the entire community. Her desire to educate herself and be a teacher is misinterpreted as a desire to subvert the longstanding culture of male heteropatriarchy. Naheed is forced to conform to the socially approved patterns of marrying a man twice her age; and this suitor happens to be a person who sexually abused her mother. In “The Wasted Vigil,” it is evident that the Taliban closed the schools for girls and children. Qatrina and Marcus the husband are threatened for teaching and instructing children. This research brings to fore the fact that a renowned character in one of the novels named Dunya is abducted when she fails to listen to a Taliban who forced her to stop teaching children. The Islamic ideology holds that women in Usha had always felt they could sink into the earth anytime. The existence of radical misogynistic organizations justifies exploitation and abuse, express the authority by feeding terror to young innocent girls. As a result, this research identifies a complex interrelationship between education, religion, and female oppression. The fact that religious systems are continually used to discourage female access to education is by itself a structural form of exploitation and entrenches violence against women.
This research notes that mass ignorance and the fear of persecution for questioning long-standing religious ideologies and traditions is a great contributor to violence and against women. For a long time, the Islamic tradition has revered religion and the Quran form a standard reference for moral behavior. This means that children are taught not to question the Islamic scriptures; which denies and prevents room for moral reasoning as children develop into adulthood. The Islamic teachings and the unwritten social laws are considered as two critically underpinning tenets in the subjugation and oppression of women. The fact that Islamic law does not recognize and permit the right of self-determination for women undermines the female decision-making capability and entrenches a culture of oppression and patriarchy. This research notes that the Mother is the symbol of life and instruction to the younger generations; and by subjugating Pak-Afghanistan women, the Islamic culture has failed to recognize the changing landscape around women. After scrutinizing Aslam’s work, this research deliberates how mothers in different societies have lost confidence in their character building and mentoring. They inject the distorted beliefs and superstitious thoughts, killing the thinking and questioning spirit in their younger women counterparts, unconsciously upholding and propagating the agenda of injustice and power.
The Aslam works and scholarship as demonstrated in her collection of novels is a clear indication of the plight of the Pak-Afghanistan women. This research notes that the patriarchal culture is deep-rooted in multiple fronts. Both male and elderly women have failed to challenge a long-standing socio-cultural system of oppression and marginalization of women. This research creates knowledge and provides insight into the changing role of women in the world, and how the Islamic tradition and culture have failed to align the rights of freedom and self-determination among the women populace. The examination of Aslam scholarship and novels on gender studies brings to fore the different forms of oppression. The above analysis surmises the paper, adding knowledge, and creating insight into the hybrid, marginalized and downtrodden conditions of Pak-Afghan women through the trajectories of ingrained patriarchal traditions and misuse of religion. The analysis provides insight on other forms of oppression and marginalization against women depicted in the form of Honour killing, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, marriage without consent, male chauvinism, financial exploitation, psychological and emotional trauma, and physical violence.