Pakistan should mind all of its languages!

Published: June 1, 2011

Scanned image of the official letter signed by a British commissioner in Sindh on August 29, 1857 declaring Sindhi as ‘official language’. It states that applications written in Persian would not be accepted, and, if anybody wants to submit it in Persian, a word-by-word Sindhi translation must also be attached with that to make it acceptable. SOURCE: THE SINDH TELEGRAPH

Pakistan is an unfortunate country which, instead of actually celebrating the invaluable diversity of its age-old culture and languages, has instead been suppressing every voice raised in its favor.

Although it is a question of simple ‘recognition’ of cultures which actually form the ‘federation’, this issue has always been dealt with purely on political grounds, not realising that this simple act of recognition (the government has nothing to show for ‘actively’ promoting its cultures) will add to the strength of the country.

It’s not diversity but uniformity which has been propagated through the state or the so-called ‘national media’ – notion of being ‘one’ nationhood has been propagated so much that the country has inappropriately been called a single nation. This concept has been propagated by the state and inculcated in the minds of the people to the extent that the real identities of the nations – Sindhi, Baloch, Pakhtoon, Seraiki, etcetera – have virtually evaporated, and the ones speaking for their separate identities are thought of as a threat to the country and, thus, should be ridded.

The problem is quite aggravated, especially in the case of the languages spoken by the people for centuries now. The languages, other than Urdu, and English, for that matter, have been made out to be something ‘alien’ for the country. Let alone promoting them at any level, these languages – SindhiBalochiPushtoSiraikiShina, etcetera – have been associated with the term ‘regional languages,’ as opposed to their historical status and importance.

The only language that does enjoy prestige is Urdu which, if we cast a quick glance at the history, is actually not a language that originally belongs to any of the current geographical territories of Pakistan that is Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Thus, Pakistan was made an exoglossic country.

Before partition, Sindhi, for example enjoyed the status of being lingua franca and the official and educational language of its land. Dr Tariq Rahman, the famous sociolinguist of Pakistan, supports this view and says:

“Sindhi is probably the oldest written language of Pakistan. Even when Persian was the official language of the Muslim rulers of Sindh, Sindhi was given more importance in the educational institutions of Sindh than the other languages of Pakistan were in the areas where they were spoken. From the 17th century onwards, a number of religious and other books were written in Sindhi and were probably part of the curricula of religious seminaries. It was the only indigenous Pakistani language which was taught officially by the British at various levels of education.”

After partition, Urdu, spoken by not more than 8 per cent of the total population as its mother tongue, was made the national language of the country, ignoring all other languages which were of great historical, cultural, social and literary importance. For example, Sindhi has been:

“spoken in the region of Sindh at the time of compilation of the Vedas (1500–1200 bce) or perhaps some centuries before that. Glimpses of that dialect can be seen to some extent in the literary language of the hymns of the Rigveda.” – Encyclopedia Britannica

This led to language riots across the country at different levels and at different times; the worst example is when the riots erupted in the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in which the students of University of Dhaka participated more actively than the others, and demonstrated on the historical day of February 21, 1952. It was quite a tragic day in history when the police killed many of the student demonstrators which, later on, would be recognised as the International Mother Language Day by UNSECO.

The sad chapter of ‘language riots’ in Sindh is also a kind of a bad mark on the country’s history which took many precious lives over the issue.

However, in these times, when the situation is not that bad and when there are active segments of media covering every aspect of the governance and administration, the language issue can actually be discussed in the assemblies and necessary amendments made in the constitution’s article 251 National Language.

The article is as follows:

251. National language.

1. The National language of Pakistan is Urdu, and arrangements shall be made for its being used for official and other purposes within fifteen years from the commencing day.

2. Subject to clause (1), the English language may be used for official purposes until arrangements are made for its replacement by Urdu.

3. Without prejudice to the status of the National language, a Provincial Assembly may by law prescribe measures for the leaching, promotion and use of a Provincial language in addition to the National language.

Linguists have always discussed the verbs used for the purpose which clearly show that it is only Urdu for which the ‘arrangements shall be made.’ As far as other languages are concerned, it is not the duty of the provincial assemblies to take special efforts for their progress – rather it has been stated that they ‘may’ take measures.

Fortunately, such a move was seen on the May 18, 2011, when Marvi Memon, an MNA from Pakistan Muslim League (Q), presented a bill which sought status of national languages for six other languages – Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi, Shina and Seraiki – alongside Urdu. But, as people like me would expect from our policy makers in a political backdrop as of Pakistan, it was flatly rejected by the majority. Although it was a question of the national language status for six languages, only two persons from among the present supported the bill: Marvi Memon (PML-Q) and Syed Zafar Ali Shah (PPP). Not only was the bill rejected, it was also termed as an ‘anti-Pakistan bill’ – not surprising for those who have had their eye on the history of Pakistan’s politics and languages.

The Resolution for a separate country in 1940 was first presented in the Sindh Assembly by Sain GM Syed and it resulted in the creation of Pakistan; the same assembly, ironically enough, cannot pass the bill to make its language national.

The problem is that any move for any language issue is thought of being a threat to Urdu language, the only one to enjoy the status of the national language, which is quite wrong. Awarding other languages the same status shall in no way risk Urdu – rather it would create a strong federation making the provinces trust each other which is lost, especially in the case of Punjab.

As a student of linguistics and familiar with the background and importance of the languages spoken within the territories of Pakistan, I would highly recommend that the said languages be given the status of national languages. This will satisfy the people speaking them respectively as their mother tongue and ensure that no conflict arises over the language issue in the future – lest another serious mishap is witnessed out of this not-so-hot right now but an always simmering topic!

Let’s not harm Urdu, but benefit other languages. Treating languages equally is like treating people equally. The country should think. And the politicians should decide – wisely!

This post was originally published here.

Aamir Raz Soomro

Aamir Raz Soomro

A social development professional, journalist and freelance writer who studied English Literature and Linguistics. He is interested in Pakistan's socio-cultural and political issues and writes for GlobalVoices and his personal blog, møsaic, and tweets @aamirraz.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Farhan

    Very well written and I agree.
    Congratulations on articulating such an important idea and clearifying the associated myths.Recommend

  • http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/images/2011/Apr/04-19-11-Bernanke%27s_Box-1.png Moise

    Oh yes, language, next more nationalism, throw in a folk concert and victimization stories, yeah I want the dignity which our masters Zbigniew Brzezinski mentions in his policy to divide Muslim states further into dignity searching people. On the day of judgment will you be asked about your language?Recommend

  • M Ali Khan

    @Moise:
    looks like you didnt get the main crux of the argument did you?Recommend

  • Zubair

    It is very sad that Pakistan possess so many colorful brilliant cultures and traditions but most of them are not even recognized. It is sad that Writer has mostly talked about sindhi and not much about Punjabi,seraiki,Pashto and Balochi. The thing is that Majority of Pakistanis are ethnic punjabis,seraikis,sindhis,balochs,pashtuns,kashmiris,gilgit baltistanis while Urdu speakers who arrived for UP and Bihar are in minority,but yet very much present in Civilian and Military establishment. Urdu is a great ,wonderful language and is a mean of communications for different nations living in Pakistan but also remember that Urdu is imposed on Punjabis,seraikis,sindhis,pashtuns and Balochs as well. Atleast Pashtuns and Sindhis are TAUGHT their regional languages in school while Punjabi,seraiki and Balochi are NOT even taught. I mean is’nt this injustice to Punjabis,seraikis and Balochs that some of us cannot even learn our own language ? Why is there Federal Urdu university but no Federal Punjabi,sindhi,Balochi or Pashtun university ? Why is Urdu ALONE a national language and others not ?
    I myself is punjabi and seraiki both,but it is sad that our own languages are not recognized in Pakistan and those who do talk about them is branded “Anti-Pakistan”Recommend

  • Sarosh A. Farooqi

    Punjabi is the most widely spoken language in Pakistan, It serves as the mother tongue to not only the densely populated Punjab but also many areas of KP and AJK. I have seen almost all of North Pakistan and have traveled till Khunjrab Pass (Pak-China border) by Karakorum Highway and never was there a place where people couldn’t understand and speak Punjabi. Anyway, for the sake of nationalism we must be ready to give up anything. Urdu binds all Pakistanis !Recommend

  • Muhammad Junaid Akhter

    can u come out of ur slavery thoughts please?

    @Moise awesome example :)Recommend

  • punter

    so right!Recommend

  • amarjamali

    as a sindhi i love my mother toungue but i think we should be realistic rather than being emotional about provincialism.i think it will be impossible to run govt offices with papers and applications written in different languages.for instance i live in district dadu of sindh here peoples live who speake different languages like urdu,sindhi,balochi,birahwi and siraiki.how will govt officials deal with their documents written in their diverse languages. Recommend

  • King

    This is the big difference between India and pakistan. We preserve almost everything. We preserve our diversity and we cherish it. Pakistan is always worry about diversity as national threat. India is the world’s only country where maximum number of native laguages, dialets and scripts exist. Recommend

  • Sufi

    @AmarJamali: Nothing is hard if you put effort into it. Look at Switzerland where they speak multiple languages. Of course it will take some time to adjust but people should learn each other’s languages as was the case in Karachi before partition.

    @Moise: nobody knows what will be asked at Judgement Day; including you! That’s not a logical argument to suppress ancient cultures.

    @Sarosh Farooqi: Urdu doesn’t bind Pakistani’s, in fact it unbinds us because forcing an alien language on a population is part of the colonial mindset.Recommend

  • Sarosh A. Farooqi

    @Sufi.. Wow after 70 years and 3 generations of speaking Urdu, you still consider Urdu an alien language… Its a pitty that we haven’t even moved from such fundamental questions, what to talk of progress.. I’m talking about Pakistani nationalism free of foreign intervention and you equate that with colonialism..Recommend

  • Hafeez.Indian

    India is having 13 Official languages including Urdu. Main National language Hindi is not taught in some of the States of India. But this has not affected Nationalism or Patriotism in any way. There are about 845 languages spoken in India and most of them does not have Letters.

    Please don’t blame Urdu atleast in Public forums. This is mother tongue of so many Indian Muslims including me and Pakistani Muslims.Recommend

  • siddharth

    I agree with Hafeez…forcing one language doesn’t guarantee the nationalism or its unification, meanwhile using many languages doesn’t mean that our nation unity will be affected in any way , I m indian and I have travel across the country and have noticed that all the languages are so much preserved ,used and cherished .. That’s unity in diversity , I can also say we are the only country in the world where thousands of newspapers and magazines are printed on daily basis in 21 different languages…at the end I would say , good work Aamir Raj , the sub continent needs people like you !!Recommend

  • http://wasioabbasi.wordpress.com Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

    Thank you author for bringing this matter to light in such clear way. I have been wondering about writing a blog on the language issue but you have highlighted it well.
    No one is blaming Urdu for creating disintegration in the country but the fact cannot be ignored that it hasn’t helped in keeping us together either. We lost East Pakistan because we never respected their language or culture. They don’t know Allama Iqbal and neither do they care because they have their own Bengai poets who put the fire in them to get a nation for the Muslims of India. We respected Iqbal but we never respected them, and ended up losing half the country.
    And nothing changed even after that. It is simply unthinkable how a language spoken by such a small fragment of society be thrust upon the whole nation. I agree with the above commenter that many people don’t even learn their own languages in their own provinces and Pakistan is turning more into Urduistan.
    It is pretty much shameful at how confused we are. Our National Language is Urdu which is mother-tongue to under 10% population, Lingua Franca is English which is known to barely 5% to 7% population, religion is Islam which is dominated by Arabic which again barely 8% to 10% population understand and our National Anthem is in Persian which is again spoken by a very small fragment of population … no wonder we cannot agree on anything.Recommend

  • Akbar Ali

    It is extremely appalling to see people equating different languages with separatism. It is hard to understand why Pakistan can not celebrate diversity like India instead of trying to suppress indigenous cultures and creating an imaginary identity. The fact that Sindhis want Sindhi as an official language in the province or that Pathans want Pushto as an official language in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa does not mean that they feel any less Pakistani or that they no longer want to be part of Pakistan! It is alarming how most people have such a short memory as to forget the secession of East Pakistan where one of the main issues was the language.

    Hope people in Pakistan are not shortsighted enough to repeat the same mistake twice. Recommend

  • parvez

    Nicely written and I like your conclusion.
    Its difficult for us to talk about languages and not politicise the issue. This then creates stress and emotions take charge and rational thinking goes out the window. Recommend

  • dilshad kandhro

    present govt. considered a govt lead by deprived Sindhi/ Baloch and Siraiki could not give right to deserving people will be very tragic than one should understand that the hidden hands of the rulers are an other one that are against the pak resolution 1940 and the nations who made pakistan .Recommend

  • umer

    The very fact only 8% of Pakistanis consider Urdu as their mother tongue, makes it more important that Urdu should remain our national language. Giving Punjabi, sindhi or pashto etc, the national language status, will leave speakers of the other languages alienated. Urdu is the standard unifying language of all pakistanis, as no major ethinicity therefore, can claim pakistans language identity to be solely theirs. Recommend

  • Usman

    Sindhi is taught in schools not only as a subject but is also used as a teaching medium. It also serves on official documents of Government of Sindh. There are publications & electronic media channels in Sindhi. I don’t see any discrimination against Sindhi language.
    I have traveled across Pakistan & always see people from varying ethnic backgrounds conversing in Urdu. It is not necessary in a country as diversified as Pakistan for a national language to be the mother tongue of majority of the people. But it should be a language through which different people could interact & communicate with each other. I do not mean to ignore the importance of other languages however the reality is Urdu binds us together. There has been a lot of bloodshed in this country in the name of languages. Please do not reignite such issues. As for the historical references please note that cultures & languages undergo changes over a period of time. I would suggest one should read & understand the culture of European countries over last few centuries. Recommend

  • malik

    It is alright to have love for all languages but we should not ignore the ground realities and historical perspectives.

    The very reason Pakistan was founded, was on One Nation, One Religion, One Language dream. This was the deal that was sold to all elites and feudal lords and gullible public during the 30′s and 40′s. The deal has to stay. (Don’t give me the spiel on Jinnah’s hypocritical vision; the only time he ever spoke of pluralism and secularism was the during the Independence of Pakistan. Which was meant for global consumption. Not for his public. That’s why his own followers did not swallow whatever he said.)

    Pakistan is like a binary thing; it is everything India is NOT.

    In the initial days, all policies were formulated looking at India.

    —-”Look, India is following socialistic planned economy, with Russian help. So, we will go to US and follow their model !”

    —-”Look, India has many languages. But we will have only one. Just our Urdu !”

    —-”Look India has brought in Land reforms. No way we will do it !!”

    —-”Look, Indian guys are having elections regularly. We will bring in Army to rule us !!”

    —-”Look Indians are making religion and state separate. Oh No, we will do the opposite !”

    —-”Look, In India, a Tamil Guy composes a Hindi song in an English film and gets Oscar for it ! We are not going to allow it! Who cares for Oscars !!!! “Recommend

  • http://Beirut Chebbo

    It’s true that our politicians and establishments have adopted the language of immigrants (Mohagirs) as national language and use it as a communicative tool among the countrymen which is a linguistic injustice. For the dominating or administrative role has been awarded to a language that was spoken by the then Muslim minority. The indigenous languages aand dialects have been deprived of their due status and have continuously being choked to death. Our so called ‘angootha chapp’ politicains do not realise that it’s not urdu that holds people together but it’s Islam that unites people. Recommend

  • Raj

    @Moise : Excellent question regrading the judgement day. The answer lies in your question. Then why the fuss about Urdu. Did you get it?Recommend

  • Muhammad Junaid Akhter

    hmm, recently I saw a youtube video regarding MQM Haqeeqi.. the background sound was that national song… Allah o Akbar Allah o Akbar …. in that i saw ther was the map of Pakistan and about half of the Sindh was marked as MOHAJIRISTAN… So, seems like we are going into 71 again…. In the name of injustice with race and language we are finally going to divide Pakistan. Congrats to all. Lets see how much this division will cost in term of blood.

    US, UK, Israel, India and bla bla… who ever we always blame that they are trying to divide Pakistan, please sit back and relax your installation has been started, let your planted agents finalize it for you.

    MAY ALLAH BLESS PAKISTANRecommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/yasiiiboy Yasir Khokhar

    Excellent article dude. The main reason for decline of such Language Bill initiated by Marvi Memon was that people fear seconding Urdu, as they avoided to be a part of ANTI-PAKISTAN BILL (as they termed it). I think we need to focus on preserving regional languages but not at the cost of losing Urdu.

    You are right that at the time of partition there were only 8.0% Urdu speaking population, but its not the figure right now, as there have been surge in urdu speaking population. So may be urdu still not be the widely speoken language in Pakistan, but its atleast widely understandable language for sure.

    But, When it comes to provinces, Sindhi is the most spoken language, considering majority of SIndhi Population in the province. Moreover we can not neglect the cultural imporatnce and heritage of the language.

    I THINK ITS A FAIR THOUGHT TO PROMOTE SINDHI AS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF PRROVINCE SINDH, atleastRecommend

  • http://wasioabbasi.wordpress.com Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

    @umer:
    Seriously? Just because they do not belong to any ethnic group in Pakistan territory and speak a language not associated with any regional language makes it suitable to bind the country? Tell me something, how is it possible the neighbours (Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pakhtoon) who have mingled with each other, traded, fought and lived together for centuries need Urdu to bind them together?
    If you really need a language to bind, it should have been Arabic since the real binding force between all of us is Islam which is Arabic dominant and it would have rid us of Mullah brigade since people would have been dependent on them to explain Islam, they would have done it by themselves by picking up Quran and Ahadith books.
    Since that is not the case, it is best to have all major regional languages as National languages for obvious reasons.
    Urdu is spoken by a certain segment that ONLY lives in urban parts of Sindh (Karachi and Hyderabad). Urdu and Sindhi both are Sindh’s provincial languages, which means speakers of both language qualify for Sindh government jobs. However, since Urdu is a national language and not Sindhi, a Sindhi speakers needs to learn Urdu and clear Urdu language exams if he/she wishes to get Federal job. They cannot progress further than their province without learning Urdu and that’s a hamper to their overall development. In order to protect a few, a large majority of population remains poorly educated.
    Here is how:
    Villages and towns in far flung areas with lots of poor families already have fewer education institutions and it is hard to find better teachers. Same is the case with finding Urdu teachers. Poorly trained in most cases, not much education could be imparted especially when children are themselves working at the same time to help family meet ends. When they pass their Metric and Inter exams, turns out there aren’t many jobs for educated since they are limited, too much competitive and mostly urbanites or those educated in urban centers qualify and take those jobs. Progressing beyond province is not possible as well. For them, whatever they learned turned out to be useless since they don’t have anything to put it to use to. Since their own language (Sindhi, Punjabi, Balochi, Pushto) isn’t given importance at national level, there is limited or next to none progress in transferring knowledge in their language. If they want to remain with the world, they have to learn English or Urdu and buy expensive books to read which is not possible for them. They are lost in the practical world, never progressing beyond the reals of politics, business and farming since that is the most they can do. Their native tongues have no national value, their leaders and decision makers are those who never stood amongst them and never understood them and speak in language over TV that has nothing to do with them. This only creates hatred for that and its speakers because they are the ones traveling in shining cars, carrying latest gadgets and appearing in suites over media and standing in government and private institutions.
    Is Urdu important enough to risk more hatred? Is Urdu important enough to risk extinctions of languages? According to the UNESCO’s report, more than 200 languages will be extinct soon from the world. Among other world languages, around 27 Pakistani languages including Brahvi, Balti, Mayan, Porak, Batairi, Phalor, Kalasha, Domaki, Jad, Kati, Khawar, Kundal Shahi, Marri, Wakhi, Chalaiso, Sapti and Rangsakari are facing serious threat to be extinct. When major provincial languages are not being protected, how are we suppose to protect these old and ancient languages that may very well be wiped off the face of the Earth in the next few years if not decades? Is Urdu still important than these?Recommend

  • Saraiki Saraikistan

    Saraiki, Sindhi, Balochi, Pashto and other five regional languages should be declared as national languages of Paskitan.Recommend

  • Muhammad Junaid Akhter

    @Usman Who knows what people are thinking..

    No one is trustworthy.. people saying “shaitan k sath etehad ho jaeyga NS k sath nhe”… but world saw that. The nation is with everyone who they found less worst then the current one. Like nowadays people saying Mushi was better then Zardari and in Mushi’s time everyone one was crying that why military is ruling… and bla bla And, I just gave example of that video. If they are soo innocents then don’t worry, we have more champions of provincialism some in KPK and Punjab right? and some more worst in Baluchistan and Sindh

    I am afraid the ultimate result would be what I said. May ALLAH Bless Pakistan.Recommend

  • umer

    declaring multiple languages as the national languages of pakistan is simply unrealistic and not practical.
    Urdu and English must remain the official and national languages of pakistan.
    then nobody can say that pakistan belongs to the punjabis/pashtuns/sindhis/ etc. it belongs to pakistanis. only 8% of the population speak urdu as their mother tongue so it definetly isnt the urdu-speaker’s pakistan either.
    All regional languages should be promoted, as a pashtun my family always spoke pashto with me at home and encouraged me to speak more of it also. But when speaking to a non pashtun, or group of multi ethnicity pakistanis, it is practical to communicate in urdu. Urdu is the gold standard language every pakistani should know. and regional languages should be also promoted but not given any national or official status. Recommend

  • http://fruitforbidden.wordpress.com Grow up, Move on!

    Exactly that’s the reason why Urdu was made the lingua franca in Pakistan because no one would except another “Regional” language. Urdu is supposed to neutralize the hatred that people don’t cease to express via-a-via their mother language. Grow up and talk about celebrating all elements that constitute Pakistani culture rather than ranting passionately over which language is better than the rest. Recommend

  • Grace

    Sindi is the most Islamic language in South Asia since it was around when Arabs first came to the region. Also it has more history and culture compared to any other language in Pakistan, especially Urdu which is like Hindi.Recommend

  • Asad Palijo

    Having multiple National Languages is not an alien concept in most parts of the world and rightly so. The four constituent states SINDH BALOCHISTAN KP PUNJAB gave their permission to be a part of PAKISTAN to exist with dignity and equality. Giving their languages the status of national language would go some way in arresting their fast deteriorating dignity and set right what was wronged decades ago. Long live Urdu and may sindhi, balochi, punjabi, seraiki, hindko, pashto prosper forever. Recommend

  • Salman Orangiwala

    Mr.Soomro the biased tings in your writing is very tangible .

    A few months back I was coming back from Lahore with a Punjabi friend by road , he was so aw-struck to see all the direction boards written in Sindhi !

    He simply failed to read the boards while I had to read them out to him.
    Not to mention he was irritated .

    Like it or not , Urdu is the binding force for this country , it might be the mother tongue of a minority in Pakistan , but NOBODY can do away wih it .

    Ask any Punjabi , Pushtoon , Seraiki , Balti , Gilgiti whther they would like to communicate with you in Sindhi/English or feel ease with Urdu ? You will have the answer .

    I have seen the kids of non-urdu speaking people in Karachi , after sometime they even prefer to communicate in Urdu with their parents rather in their mother tongue .

    And finally thanks to the Indian channels , now even the remotest area dwellers are catching up Hindi/Urdu fast . People like you with latent abhorrence can just sit and watch the change , nothing you can do to halt the metamorphosis despite all efforts and hatred .So sad . Recommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/yasiiiboy Yasir Khokhar

    @ Orangi wala

    The hatred is very well reflected in ur writting. I dont get your point, so if Indian Media keeps penetrating at such a pace,we should probably be declaring HINDI as our official language, for people in remote areas understand that very well? Isn’t it.
    .
    Why is that whenver any one talks about promoting a regional language, a little fraction in our society see it as a movement against URDU?

    Poeple in egypt are probably trying to preserve thier ancient language, same is the case with Greece, whereas we when talk about something like making the ancient language alive, its termed as ANTI-Pakistan move.

    You can not push every one to speak only urdu at killing all other regional/historical languages.

    One last thing, ” regarding your sign board issue, If u have happend to travel recently NHA has issued sign boards with URDU and SINDHI (Translation) in the province of Sindh.Recommend

  • Khalid Rahim

    Unless the author wants us to know that Sind must be divided into four separate kingdoms
    based on four major languages spoken Baluchi Pashto Sindhi and Urdu.Recommend

  • Lady6

    You might have got this idea while sitting on the toilet seat.//./// such a time waste blog I’ve ever readRecommend

  • Ahmed

    Wow! this is what I call a “Healthy Debate”!! Well done author for bringing it up!
    Personally, I think we should accept and celebrate the diversity that is Pakistan. This diversity is our strength. Promoting our different cultures and languages doesn’t undermine national unity- it strengthens our identity- something we desperately need in these troubled times.Recommend

  • http://billaytoot.wordpress.com Bilal

    I think, Urdu is good to be as a national language but yes all other local languages should be given importance. We have such a beautiful poetry in those languages.

    I would say, we should do some thing to save our urdu even, because day by day, the modernization has led our kids to speak in english at schools and at homes, making them hardly understand and talk their national and local language. English language is very important but at a certain level we should know other local languages as well.Recommend

  • http://www.flickr.com/ameerhamza Ameer Hamza

    My mother tongue is not Urdu and I don’t accept it as a sole national language of this country, no matter what these politicians say. Am I then Anti-Pakistan? Let me know. Recommend

  • Salman Orangiwala

    @Khokar

    You and like-minded are trying to win a lost battle .
    No doubt for every child his/her mother tongue sounds the sweetest in the whole world , but what is observant here that the blogger and his compadres are trying to force their
    thoughts and languages down the throats of others .

    Bhuttos and Mumtaz Bhuttos tried and have been toiling desparately for the last few decades , behold the outcome yourselves .

    I live in Karachi , can read but cannot speak Sindhi but speak fluent Punjabi !

    Here is the reason to make you understand the simple logic .

    I had no option but to study Sindhi in school you may call it “forced-feeding ”

    While a few Punjabi neighbours and colleagues were so helpful in teaching and orating me “their” language that at time my Punjabi is better then theirs .

    Hope you are getting the vibes correctly ?Recommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/yasiiiboy Yasir Khokhar

    @ Salman Orangiwala

    Alright ur call dude. SIndh’s population is 40 M approx. out of which 25 M appx. are sindhi speaking, How would you feel if Sindhis say they are being forced into Urdu, despite the fact that their population outnumber any other alien language speakers

    The point is that, its not any move against URDU, which no doubt is a national language and should continue to be, but its about promoting other langauges and especially ones which are dieng despite the fact that their literature is more richer then many other languages of Pakistan. (revive the languages at provincial level atleast)

    For your information, In India neither the Constitution of India, nor any Indian law defines any national language States specify their own official language(s) through legislation {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages with official status in India}.

    If it can work for a diverse national like India, why it has to be taken as an anti-Pakistan move at home.Recommend

  • Shahid

    Worth keeping in mind that all languages spoken in Pakistan (with he exception of Brahui, which belongs to the Dravidian language family of South India) are related and there are varying degrees of mutual intelligibility among them ranging from being almost the same language to languages of which one can only pick out a few words, but except in the remotest areas, still enough to carry on a fruitful conversation. As for the notion that only 8% can claim Urdu as their mother tongue, what is one to make of the fact that the greatest poets and authors of Urdu in last century were Kashmiris (Manto, Sarshar), Punjabis (Iqbal, Faiz, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, and so many others), Pashtun (Faraz), Baluchi (N.M. Danish), and I’m sure there are others whose ethnicity does not fall neatly into above demarcated groupings. For example, N.M. Danish also happens to be partly of African descent. Urdu/Hindi is also understood by more than half a billion Indians–thanks partly to Bollywood–and is among the few North Indian languages that has a significant community of speakers in the South (e.g. Hyderabad Deccan). Urdu, by definition is a cosmopolitan language (the very word is Turkish, and as a melange of Farsi, Arabic, Hindi, and English, it provides an entry point to several cultures). Unfortunately, some of the 8% who proudly claim Urdu as their very own can alienate otherwise well-disposed people by their chauvinism, e.g. Josh and Maulvi Abdul Haq whose highhanded insistence on “their way or the highway” was bound to rub large numbers of people the wrong way. Languages evolve and borrow from each other depending on time and place. To try to foist accents and diction that were once the norm in tiny elite circles of Lucknow on a 21st century audience of hundreds of millions is like trying to stick to Shakespearean English in everyday usage.Recommend

  • http://wasioabbasi.wordpress.com Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

    @Shahid:
    The problem is that the founders had different ideas at the time of creation of Pakistan and took initial steps to start fulfilling broader plans, but all got disrupted one way or the other due to deaths, military takeovers, constitutional crisis and ethnic differences.
    Now Urdu has become “Warning Beacon” for a certain group that consider any step against or in competition of its national status as Anti-Pakistan, genocidal-intent and alienating minority. What the same group simply ignore is that before partition the language of the ‘Educated Muslims’ was Persian and common language for the Muslims of Central India (not Eastern states nor Western states) was Urdu. By placing Urdu as National language, not just educated class had to leave behind the “Educated Language” of Muslims but in efforts to develop Urdu throughout the country, the remaining provincial but historic and ancient languages were ignored.
    After 60 years of independence if it is claimed that you cannot do away with Urdu and change is there but we are not seeing it … it is pretty shameful of how other languages were suppressed so that a fraction of society feels special, don’t bother learning and understanding other languages and cultures, get immediate qualification to top government jobs in the country for more than half a century and stand on this day to claim that you cannot do away with Urdu.
    A common Sindhi, Balochi, Punjabi and Pushtoon will have to learn his/her own mother-tongue at home. If you need good schooling, you would have to learn Urdu and English and the written part of your mother-tongue will simply be ignored. Despite the fact that hundreds of research papers have been written, claiming that a child learns best if his education is in his/her mother-tongue, we continue to ignore the mother-tongue of more than 85% of country’s population. If, even after that, the Urdu-speaking segment of society stands up to say they are most educated … I think that is as good a proof of linguistic-genocide as one can get.Recommend