I am Pakistani, whether I speak Urdu or Punjabi

Published: November 19, 2013
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Questioning the loyalty and ‘desi-ness’, for the perceived crime of improperly pronouncing Urdu words, is simply unacceptable.

We are not a sitar with a single string, and our music takes more than one chord to make. We are a convergence of languages and cultures, all of which are simply too lustrous to be overshadowed by any single one.

Yet Urdu is not considered a language; it is an apparatus used to measure patriotism. It is a test that is used to verify one’s allegiance to our green and white flag.

Isn’t this an awkward status to have bestowed upon Urdu, considering hardly eight percent of Pakistanis speak it as their mother tongue?

On the other hand, Punjabi happens to be the first language of 44% of Pakistanis. It is what they comfortably speaking at home, that is, when they are not busy using Urdu to affirm their ‘Pakistani-ness’ to the rest of the nation.

It is this affirmation that we did not receive from our now-separated eastern half, which insisted on speaking Bengali. Although it would be sinfully simplistic to claim that East Pakistan broke off due to a failure to add Bengali to our holy pedestal of official languages, there are very few who say that West Pakistan’s lack of resilience in this matter did not stoke the flames in 1971.

Perhaps our fault lies in the fact that we often impart more meaning to a language than is necessary. After all, English has been unofficially dubbed the language of the elite, and many pompously speak it to impress upon the listener the quality of education that they have received. Similarly, a person may speak Urdu to remind us of his love for Pakistan.

While there are many who mourn the imagined death of Urdu language and literature, there are few who lament the decimation of Punjabi. Once the wand with which Bulleh Shah cast his culture-enriching magic, Punjabi is now a language of uneducated village folk best known for jugat, or witty banter.

The fact that I can even name a few Punjabi poets is heartening, because I do not think that I can even name Bulleh Shah’s counterpart for the Balochi language. God alone knows which dead or dying languages there are in the south, trampled beneath the feet of the giants that are English and Urdu. My sincere gratitude goes out to whichever chirping cricket is offering them company at their death beds.

If these dismal metaphors upset you, here is another theory for you to consider.

Our languages are not dying – rather, they are evolving.

They are flowing into one another, donating words and importing phrases.

This adulteration is not an injustice unique to Urdu; it is something that all languages go through. A case in point is the multitude of blogs, articles and newspaper columns criticising the ‘destruction’ of the English language by internet jargon.

Yes, Urdu plays a significant role in Pakistan, being the common language which allows a Sindhi and a Pashtun to communicate with words, rather than awkward gestures. However, excessive glorification of Urdu as being symbolic of one’s Pakistani nationality is frankly an insult to the non-Urdu speaking citizens of this country.

Questioning their loyalty and ‘desi-ness’, for the perceived crime of improperly pronouncing Urdu words, is simply unacceptable.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

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

  • BlackJack

    Today Mulayam Singh Yadav made a statement saying that members of parliament from non-Hindi speaking states should learn to speak Hindi instead of using English. He has been roundly criticized by politicians from different parts of the country, as well as members of civil society. I’m thankful that Hindi doesn’t stand for anything more than a lingua franca for 40 per cent of India, and is not misrepresented as a symbol of patriotism or Indian-ness. The irony is telling; the bitter Hindi-Urdu debate pre-independence was largely about the written word/ script and was immaterial in a country with 12-15 per cent literacy (and the spoken language then contained words of both Sanskrit and Persian origin just as it does today);however, in Pakistan, despite the fact that the majority language Punjabi is also written in the Nastaliq script which should have made the argument for Urdu irrelevant, it was still imported and made more Pakistani than Pakistan’s own languages, similar to your glorious history that focuses on assorted foreign mass-murderers.Recommend

  • Maria

    I enjoyed your article immensely. Punjabi is such an old and rich language. So few Pakistanis write and read it in the original Persian script called Shahname. It is important that Pakistanis not only continue to use and respect Punjabi, but all of Pakistan’s native languages. Urdu may be a link language but it is a relatively new language which has not roots in Pakistan and ties Pakistan to India because it is so similar to Hindi. I don’t buy the argument that speaking a language close to Hindi is being “patriotic” at all. I am Pakistani and I prefer to speak Pashtu and Punjabi given the chance.Recommend

  • Nadir Hasan

    Yes, they should leave Urdu alone.
    Make English the National Language of Pakistan.
    Urdu should be re-labelled as a regional-local language – as Gujrati.
    Perhaps once this has been achieved, the hatred for (so-called) Urdu-speakers will also start to wane………. wishful thinking?
    NHRecommend

  • B+

    You should have written this blog in
    Punjabi so that 44% of Pakistani can understand it.Recommend

  • AYL

    This 8% figure for Urdu is highly dubious. Punjabi Parents tend to speak Urdu with their kids. I am not sure about other regional languages.
    Urdu and English has seen growth in Pakistan because they are linked closely with attainment of knowledge, success and power.Recommend

  • Humza

    It’s funny but I thought that someone who is speaks Punjabi or any of the other native languages is more Pakistani than someone who only speaks Urdu. If you are only Urdu speaking, it implies you migrated from India so not only your language but your appearance and culture will be different than native Pakistanis and you will be closer to Indians. Real Urdu speakers are a minority which is why speaking English or Urdu can be considered equally non Pakistani. Only a real Pakistani can speak in English and Urdu but still know his own native language.Recommend

  • Necromancer

    The Province of Punjab speaks yet again………aren’t there issues more important than Urdu and Punjabi…….For starters can you write about Balochistan and why they hate Punjab.Recommend

  • Omer

    So you are saying that this is Urdu Speaking people’s fault?

    Along with the creation of Jinnahpur, MLA and what not!!!Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Imagine yourself talking to your clientele in profound pothohari dialect (Since you’re from pindi)Recommend

  • grandmasti

    Hindi movie phir kaise dekhenege…pashtu or punjabi movie achchhi nahi hoti:)I must speak Hindi for this article atleast.Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    Yet Urdu is not considered a language; it is an apparatus used to measure patriotism. It is a test that is used to verify one’s allegiance to our green and white flag.

    Faraz Faraz beleive me it’s you who is telling us that Urdu has such a imposing status here in Pakistan. Bhai it’s just a language if you need to use it then speak it, otherwise forget about it. Now tell me in towns and villages of Punjab if anyone is speaking urdu is it out of love, fear, respect, or necessity ? Definitely it is only when he/she needs this language, no one is standing there holding a “Patriotism Meter or Stethoscope”. Here in Pakistan Urdu is treated as Muhajirs’ langauge and in India it’s muslims’ language. Urdu is definitely a langauage which getting bashed and at the same time is feared of. Look at “Hindi Films” which are understood by every Pakistani and dialogues and songs of these “Hindi Films” are at the lips of almost every Pakistani. Now feel proud you know “Hindi” as well.Recommend

  • Sabih Zafar Ullah

    Ji khush kitta…..Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    Your thoughts are direct result of deliberate efforts of successive governments and establishment to distort the Pakistan movement history. This aim is basically responsible for creation of Bangladesh. Because this policy aims to refuse to accept single handed struggle of muslims of areas (now part of India) and Bengal (now Bangladesh)
    If any one has any doubts, he/she can talk to any Bangladeshi who was mature in 1971 to ascertain their grievances. It’s not impossible.Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    Your reply is a slap in the faceRecommend

  • Gul

    I love the fact that Pakistan has such a lovely mix of cultures and languages but with due respect, Urdu is the national language of Pakistan. So it is not “just a common language” as you said. In fact it is the only language we Karachiites speak LOL. I agree with you that patriotism should not be judged by one’s fluency in Urdu but Urdu is the common medium of communication for Pakistanis. You can speak any language you want, Punjabi, Pashto, Balochi or Sindhi but please don’t malign Urdu in your blog.Recommend

  • Faiz Ahmed

    Yes this is exactly what Pakistani’s and specially Muhajirs need more hatred……..History is about to repeat itself and let me assure you Punjab is going to be the biggest loser in all of this…….Especially when they don’t have Electricity, Gas and Natural resources and of course they are also short on food to feed their own province (20% shortage every year in Punjab other provinces have sufficient harvest to feed their population).Recommend

  • yasir

    faraz shab tusi tey khud yeh article english vich likh dita sii :PRecommend

  • Dureen A Anwer

    But speaking Punjabi does make one appear kooler… wish I could speak Punjabi :(Recommend

  • Kublai

    The author sounds like very confused and maudlin’. Nobody can really,
    truly decipher his narrative. However Everyone knows that from
    Kafiristan to Gawadar you can get by or be understood in Urdu.Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com/ Tanzeel

    I agree with FL. Punjabis must not be taken as inferior. They are equally Pakistanis like any other community. Punjabis should stick to their mother tongue and use it extensively to leave impact on so called patriotic 8% patriotic Pakistanis. Even in English/ Urdu exam they should answer in Punjabi language to record protest. I am sure out of 44% of Punjabi brethren someone must be checking papers as well.Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com/ Tanzeel

    yes literally “Cooler”.Recommend

  • Sami

    So what i can decipher from your comment that it is absolutely not allowed to talk anything about Punjab?. The only thing that is allowed to be talked about is to find out ways and means to Hate the People of Punjab??.

    Let me tell you that The culture and language of every region is as important as any other thing. Believe me one Homogeneous culture in one particular region brings harmony and Religious extremism tone down automatically when People identify themselves with one identity based on Geography, Language and Culture. Lack of cultural representation force you to be identified with some other identity and in our case it is the Religion and look what this identity is giving us right now.
    Every issue goes side by side and every issue has its own priority and there is nothing wrong is discussing one relevant topic that actually allures to the bigger problem of National identity.Recommend

  • SM

    Urdu is an Indian language and always will be, born in what is today Uttar Pradesh as a mix of Khari Boli and Farsi. Unfortunately the Muslim League that was the project of UP Muslim elite imposed it on Pakistan that consisted of Punjabis, Sindhi, Bengalis, Balochis and Phatans. Bengalis did not accept the imposition of Urdu lying down and it resulted in the 1971 separation, with undoubtedly some help from India. But Urdu is not a present Pakistani language no matter how you treat it. The beauty of mathematical facts is, it is true even if you don’t believe in them, thus, as the author himself said, only 8% of Pakistanis think of Urdu as their mother tongue, and I bet most of them came from UP and Bihar during partition. Its high time Pakistan corrects itself by recognizing all its intrinsic languages such as Punjabi, Balochi, Sindhi etc. and set aside its obsession with Urdu, which is in a way negates the local culture and tries to ape a culture that is not yours, be it UP or Arab. Only then Pakistan can hope to become a normal functioning country, perhaps with a democracy and the rule of law.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Punjabi, of course, was just one example that I’d given to make a larger point, which is that patriotism is not measured by one’s command of Urdu in particular, since we’re a nation that speaks many languages.

    This is not an inter-provincial debate.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    The 8% figure has been acquired from the last Pakistani census report:
    http://www.census.gov.pk/MotherTongue.htmRecommend

  • True Karachiwala

    Ok Dr.Sahib. I would request you to discuss reasons in your next blog why our beloved poet Allama Iqbal had choosen Urdu along with persian for his poetry . I hope if written with a broader perspective, critics of urdu here will be satisfactorily answered.Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    saller provinces in Pakistan and Bangladeshis will have same answer as to the hate for Punjab. It’s not a common punjabi, but establishment dominated by Punjabis who are hell bent to make Takht Lahore Asia’s capital, simply by spending lavishly on gardens and roads.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    You know they speak Punjabi in India too, right?Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Language is just a means towards an end. Not an end in itself. Jello- journalism! (not to be confused with yellow journalism)Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Yes, Urdu and ‘Persian’. Your national anthem is in farsi. Maybe you should learn farsi too, lest we start to question your patriotism.

    You may have misunderstood my point. I don’t wish to replace Urdu with Punjabi, or any other language. The blog is about people excessively glorifying Urdu and linking it with Pakistani-ness, while ignoring all other beautiful, local languages that we speak.Recommend

  • Faiz Ahmed

    No one ever said that if you can’t speak urdu you are a less Pakistani it is all fine, the problem arises when you start making comments at Urdu for e.g. language of the minority and stuff like that. First things first Urdu has, is and will remain the language of people of Pakistan to communicate regardless of anything. Try to make PAKISTAN first and Then PUNJABRecommend

  • Faiz Ahmed

    National Identity interesting point. Can you define what National Identity is Pakistan following? Showing Indian Soap operas and movies is an intrusion on our culture, although we are indians technically (get your DNA tested if you don’t agree), but influence of Arabs is fine I think for you guys, It is not a question about URDU or PUNJABI it is just a matter of ego for you people.Recommend

  • Sami

    I think your comprehension and reading skills are below than normal since you never misunderstood my comment and replying for the sake of criticism without having any logical rationale whatsoever..
    Also i would suggest the people like you to visit EUROPE someday so you could understand that Culture is not a matter of Ego but a matter of Homogeneity among the masses and culture evolution is quintessential for a survival of some nation as well.
    Also I dont want to dwell into Arab or Indian discussion because so called liberals of Pakistan want to drag this discussion everywhere but it is absolutely off topic for me.
    Pakistan is like Europe in my view since Pakistani identity is like Europe where Pluralism and Tolerance of Various cultures is important but some people could not understand this simple point.Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    Your this explanation renders whole blog meaningless.Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    Actually, today Punjab’s youth pick up matters from right now, they do not know or pretend to be not knowing what has been going on since creation of Pakistan. The necessity to write this blog with this caption is itself a proof that they feel qualms within themselves how rest of Pakistan see big brother.Recommend

  • Humza

    Only a relatively small number of Indians or less than 4 % speak Punjabi whereas a lot of Indians speak Hindi which is like Urdu. In North America and the UK, people can immediately recognize a Pakistani speaking Punjabi vs an Indian speaking his dialect of Punjabi by variations in speech. Also the Indian dialect of Punjabi and is written in Sanskrit type Gurmukhi whereas the older Pakistani Punjabi is written in Persian script called Shahname.Recommend

  • Usman Ramzan

    pity as always :/ Try to digest things that you don’t like ,i can smell the hatred you grew up withRecommend

  • Patriotic Pakistani

    I wonder why Punjabis have problems with Urdu. Punjab is the most densely populated province of Pakistan and therefore a majority of the population lives there and speaks Punjabi. I have never in my entire life seen any Sindhi, any Balochi, or any Pashtun criticizing Urdu or its native speakers. Urdu is the national language of Pakistan. We cannot make Punjabi the national language just because majority of the population speaks it.

    Regarding patriotism, I want to ask the author as to why people in Punjab including Lahore and Islamabad judge you because of your non ability to speak fluent Punjabi. Is it true that people belonging to the Urdu speaking community of Sindhi community or Pashtun are not high class Pakistanis like Punjabis. Please stop creating hatred among people on the basis of language. we already have enough issues to deal with.Recommend

  • Taraz Falat

    Indian trolls hating Pakistan go smell the stink of your own newspapers. Pakistanis are all united behind their languages so we don’t need your languages. Keep them to yourselves.Recommend

  • Atif Ahmed

    What meaningless reply!! There are more important issues! Then why bother to read and then reply to thin waste of time?
    You must be urdu speaking.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    It seems like you’re referring to an earlier blog on ET about Urdu being a “servant’s language”. Yes, such remarks are vile on multiple levels.

    You do, however, contradict yourself in your comment. You first echo my own opinion about refusal to speak Urdu not making one a lesser Pakistani, followed by the proposition that Urdu is the “language of people of Pakistan” and that I should “make Pakistan first and then Punjab”.

    Which brings me back to the original question: Why does my choice to speak/refine Punjabi (or any other regional language) rather than Urdu, imply that I’m not caring enough about “making Pakistan”?Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Fair enough. As it happens, I can convey my ideas much more effectively in English than in Punjabi.

    Besides, this blog isn’t only about Punjabi vs Urdu/English. It’s about all regional languages; Punjabi is only used as an example (it wasn’t even part of my original title, rather chosen by the editor)Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    It is the fault of Urdu supremacists; who believe Urdu takes precedence over all other languages in Pakistan, not just as a common medium of communication, but a determinant of your patriotism.Recommend

  • oats

    I think Pakistanis should adopt English as a nation wide language since both English and Urdu are official languages and imported to Pak. Jinnah spoke English instead of Urdu or any regional language. The obvious truth is that English is more useful in the world. We can all continue to enjoy music and culture in Pakistanis regional languages.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Equating patriotism with language was pure mischief making in order to create division and was formulated by our politicians.
    In my view the two are not even remotely connected. Today this has become more an academic issue because language has now been replaced by religion…….a much more potent drug.Recommend

  • Atul ARORA

    Wiki:
    Punjabi /pʌnˈdʒɑːbi/[3] (Gurmukhi: ਪੰਜਾਬੀ; Devanagari: पंजाबी; Shahmukhi: پنجابی) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by 102 million native speakers worldwide, making it the 9th most widely spoken language (2010) [1][4] in the world.

    4% i.e. 40 million Indians speak Punjabi out of WW figure of 102 m.

    North Americans and Brits do not understand Punjabi leave alone understanding the diction. People from the sub-continent and that too from Punjab perhaps hear the difference.

    The country was India, the area Punjab where Punjabi was spoken BEFORE the advent of Islam in India.
    How is Pakistani Punjabi older?
    Which school of thought, which knowledge of History and which Logic got you to these facts?Recommend

  • another indian

    I guess you didn’t hear Mulayam’s speech. He was not at all proposing the hindi as the “only” language, but was complaining about excessive use of English. Both are different matters,please don’t blame “Hindi” or “Hindi nationalism” every time when English is opposed in India. He said speak Indian languages in Indian Parliament whether it be Hindi,Tamil,malayalam,kannad but not english. Although being a stupid politican himself,hestill is ware of the fact that India is a multilingual,multicultural country and our destiny is in our own languages not in a foreign toungue.Contrary to Pakistan India has no national laguage but 21 official languages all of them would be treated as ‘national’ as per the Supreme court’s hearing,plus the government already has proposals to include many more regional laguages to include in the 8th section.

    P.S : for the ones who will shout for communication problem,while someone speaking in regional laguages in Parliament,please note that there are transalters and interpreters of all recognised indian languages in Parliament who are paid enough to carry on their work . Please go though the link below to hear his speech,if you can’t understand it,don’t worry our pakistani freinds could help you
    http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/news/mulayam-singh-yadav-demands-ban-on-english-in-parliament/298294Recommend

  • Atul ARORA

    Sorry – I beg to disagree.

    Culture is a defining feature of a person’s identity.

    Language is intrinsic to the expression of culture, as a means of communicating values, beliefs and customs. It has an important social function and fosters feelings of group identity and solidarity. It is the means by which culture and its traditions and shared values may be conveyed and preserved.

    Language is fundamental to a cultural identity.
    In short – kill a language, see the culture wither.Recommend

  • AYL

    Dear Faraz,

    I am criticizing on methodology of census and not on your quote. It does it wrong and i know it because i am part of it.

    People (Mostly Punjabi) register themselves as Punjabi speaking but they do not speak Punjabi with kids although the whole family is registered as Punjabi speaking.

    Urdu is much more widespread than Just 8% in Pakistan.

    And do not discount that Millions of people who go out to Schools, Colleges, Universities and Offices speak Urdu all day.Recommend

  • Nadir Hasan

    To repeat………..please leave Urdu alone.
    English should be the National language of Pakistan.
    Urdu can remain the status of a language of literature in those who want to study the same at University.
    Let Pakistanis speak to one another in their ‘own’ regional languages.
    It will be great for the much despised Urdu-speaking to be free of the burden of this whole fiasco!
    However, judging from the standard of English in most Pakistani newspapers (and the online commentariat), it will great fun to see the Tower of Babel that will soon emerge.

    NHRecommend

  • Hasan

    I think the writer is completely wrong is his assumption that the use of Urdu is somehow linked with any sense of patriotism or national identity. Forget its status as the national language for a second, the use of Urdu or English by most urban Pakistani’s is more closely lined with issues of class (added prestige compared to Punjabi which is seen as provincial and uncouth) and the social stigma attached to the regional languages.

    It is a great topic for discussion, I just think you should have thought it through and hadn’t taken the “national language” status of Urdu to assume that every speaker has something as slippery as national identity in mind when they decide on a language to use in a given social context.Recommend

  • gp65

    If you had said Pakistan could have been like Europe with each country having its own unique identity while simultaneously having. A pan European identity, I would have agreed. But when you say that it is like that, I find that strange. It is like Saudi Arabia (and I am not trying to drag in. The Ondian Arab debate here) in the sense that there is legal discrimination against Muslims, there are laws like ehteram- e-Ramzan which are pushed down the throats of non-Muslims and as the blogger has indicated there is a concerted attempt to downplay language and culture of other provinces.

    You are quite correct in your assessment that this pushes people towards a singular religion focused identity which has not benefitted Pakistan.Recommend

  • Dureen A Anwer

    But kooler is cooler than coolerRecommend

  • BlackJack

    You don’t get the point. Hindi is the NATIVE language of a large part of India (much larger than the entire Pakistan), and is the main language of communication in precisely those parts. Next, if you compare native speakers of Punjabi to native speakers of Urdu (without counting Hindi), then Punjabi has 100 mn native speakers and Urdu has around 70 mn. If you add the diaspora, the difference is even more pronounced. And last, Gurmukhi is the older script for Punjabi language developed from the Sharda script during the lifetime of the Gurus while Shahmukhi was yet another political reaction to provide an alternative that ‘looked’ muslim (the script is largely the same as Persian but even the naming of the script should tell you that one was a reaction to the other). Unfortunately that happened so long before Independence that supporters of the Pak movement forgot that they already had one ‘muslim’ language.Recommend

  • Faiz Ahmed

    Because Urdu is a connecting cable in Pakistan, which is severely divided along the lines of Sect, creed, religion and many things. If we start this debate (about Urdu and Punjabi) then we have another dividing force in an already divided country. My whole point is Urdu has served as a medium of communication to people of Pakistan and has directly and indirectly gives us Pakistanis a common tongue which might have also contributed to be more patriotic….:)Recommend

  • Faiz Ahmed

    You still haven’t answered my question yet What National Identity is Pakistan following? and forget Europe compare yourself to third world countries like Somalia, Nigeria, Chad and North Africa.( You can’t even compare yourself to Bangladesh now).Recommend

  • Faiz Ahmed

    Jaag Punajbi Jaag is that what you want brotherRecommend

  • Faiz Ahmed

    Correction our first National Anthem was in Urdu which was approved By Quaid-e-Azam and was played the first time Radio Pakistan Started its service. It was written by Jaggannath Azad but beacuse of our fear of Hindus we changed it and replaced it with farsi version written by Rehmat Ali.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarana-e-PakistanRecommend

  • BlackJack

    You consider English a foreign tongue, I don’t; it is an official language of the Republic of India – and people should be free to speak in a language of their choice instead of being dictated to by the narrow-minded. I also think it is downright ridiculous to use interpreters in your own country if you can make yourself understood to your audience in a common language – and Mulayam Singh should certainly be free to avail of your translators in case he is unable to follow.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    cooler inceptionRecommend

  • Gratgy

    What you said is relevent to this blog because…..???Recommend

  • Sane

    @Writer

    There is no issue or rift between Urdu and Punjabi speaking. Why you are highlighting those issues which do not exist. Does the existing religious and political rifts are not enough for you or you have some other ‘agenda’.Recommend

  • excalibur

    Quaid i Azam had declared Urdu as the national Language Period.
    Any one sowing discord and mischief after that is deplorable and despicable

    Urdu is the pearl string that has origins as the lingua franca in lashkars and now in Pakistan to cement the federation as we are not one nation but disparate ethnicities at bestRecommend

  • Faraz Talat

    8% is actually pretty close to true. Remember, the slice of Pakistani population that you’re accustomed to seeing everyday – upper middle-class urbanites – are in no way representative of the overall Pakistani population.

    There are barely any Urdu-speaking rural areas on our map, which cover roughly three-quarters of Pakistan.

    Besides, even if the 8% figure is flawed, it is all that we have to work with! This is the most accurate number we have, at the moment.Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    Hahaha! FunnyRecommend

  • Satesh Kumar

    Very true.. but the concept would have been more clear if Sindhi, Balochi and Pashto language were also considered.
    Above all, a topic awaiting debate since a long period.Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    I don’t adhere to theoretical assertions so your view could be very true, however, I expressed what I personally feel. It’s not an imposition of my thoughts on anyone!Recommend

  • Roger St S

    Why did to bring this to your blog?? what are your intentions?? Instead of saying that its a shame that we don’t speak our national language..your are going on wrong side.Recommend

  • Humza

    I suggest you look at all the historical texts that form the nucleus of Punjabi literature from the likes of Bulleh Shah – these works are all written in the Shahname Punjabi of present Pakistan. You forget that while Sikhism is several hundred years old, Islam in the Punjab is over 1000 years old. Gurmukhi – or language of the Guru’s mouth is only as old as Sikhism which tells you which language comes first. There is no reason for Punjabi script to “look Muslim” – most Punjabis throughout the world are in fact Muslim despite a minority of Hindu and Sikh Punjabis in India. Moreover Punjab was part of Islamic realms long before British India and there never was a need to choose a Muslim script. The educated class always used the Persian script back in the days when a small minority were literate.Recommend

  • Humza

    I see we agree that hardly 4 % of Indians speak Punjabi whereas a large number of Indians speak Hindi / Urdu. The majority of Punjabi speakers worldwide are in fact Pakistani which explains why Punjabi can be argued to be a more Pakistani language. The current geographic region of Punjab is a descriptive term in Persian as you no doubt know. Punjab was part of Persian Khorasan and part of many Empires from the West – in this context the history of the Punjab like much of Pakistan has a history apart from British India. Western references to the Northern dialects of Punjabi which is corresponds to present day Pakistan are even noted in T. Grahame Bailey’s Book “Panjabi Manual and Grammar” from 1912. Punjabi, Persian, Arabic and Turkish were all spoken before the advent of Islam but we are talking about the evolution of Punjabi and its body of literature which is largely a result of the Muslim Punjabi experience of the last 1000 years.The forerunner of current Punjabi or Pakrit has not left much in the way of recorded literature.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    I think you misunderstood.

    Nobody’s advocating the replacement of Urdu with Punjabi, as a national language. We do need a common language, and Urdu serves that purpose well.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Those languages have been considered in this blog.
    Punjabi is only used to illustrate a general argument for regional languages.Recommend

  • Nero

    The perceived association between patriotism and Urdu (mostly unsaid though) might be a hang-over from the Pakistan movement, which was led and effected by the Urdu speaking elite from North and Central India. The resurgence of regional languages like Punjabi as opposed to the language of the erstwhile ruling minority is inevitable. Especially since Punjab has already gained dominance over the state.Recommend

  • Nero

    Real patriotism doesn’t emerge from common language or religion. It emerges when state provides justice and accepts that national identity is just one of the identities which any individual has. There is nothing wrong with the debate about languages. Patriotism lies in having those debates in a civil manner, without being defensive about the brittleness of the “nation”.Recommend

  • Nero

    Very interesting coming from a country based on two national theory and impossibility of coexistence of faiths. Life comes full circle!Recommend

  • gp65

    Agree with you that English is one of he 22 official languages of India and if people choose to speak in Enlish, that is fine.

    Having said that @Another Indian is quite correct in pointing out that the example you gave does not fit in the context of this blog. Mulayam wasn’t pushing Hindi to the exclusion of other native Indian languages in the manner that Urdu has been pushed in Pakistan at the cost of native Pakistani languages from 1947 as is well documented.. Nor was he making it a test of patriotism that people spoke in Hindi – the issue that Faraz refers to.

    Also if you consider Urdu a foreign language to Pakistan despite it being designated as a national language because it was not born in present day Pakistan, then how exactly do you disagree with Mulayam’s point that English is a foreign language even if it one of the 22 official languages of India?Recommend

  • BlackJack

    I was responding to his remark on my post, and if you hear the full speech by Mulayam Singh (instead of the tiny clip that our friend has shared), he does say that there is a need to promote Hindi in Hindi non-speaking areas, which exactly matches the issue that this blog addresses. Second, I don’t understand your question – Urdu is foreign in origin to Pakistan (just as English is to India), but is one of their languages and everyone should be free to speak in whichever language they please without having to cater to the whims and fancies of the likes of Mulayam Singh or his Pakistani equivalents. No one should be forced to speak Urdu/ English to the detriment of his preferred language using misguided arguments like patriotism or angrezo ki ghulami, or alternatively, coerced not to use Urdu/ English/ Hindi either.Recommend

  • gp65

    You say this now “Second, I don’t understand your question – Urdu is foreign in origin to Pakistan (just as English is to India)” but that is inconsistent with what you said earlier “You consider English a foreign tongue, I don’t; “. The two statements are inconsistent. I agree with what you say now.

    Secondly, encouraging people to speak in Hindi is very different from forcing them to. In India, government schools can and do use local language rather than Hindi as a medium of instruction. Civil services exams too can be in any of the languages in schedule 8. That choice exists for both written and oral exams.

    Absent the coercion (through lack of choice) to use Hindi both as a medium of instruction and as a way to succeed in government, there is nothing offensive if someone encourages people to use Hindi. This is not at all similar to Pakistan where government schools teach in Urdu as medium of instruction and civil services exams cannot be taken in local languages. So the comparison is simply not valid.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    This is a pointless argument because you are picking up one line and treating it as the entire comment, and have forgotten that I started my initial comment with saying that India was different from Pakistan, which seems to be your final conclusion. Pls consider this my last comment.Recommend

  • Abdullah

    Urdu is and will be used as national language to bridge the gap between the different provinces and most pakistanis are fluent in it. ALSO THEY ARE FREE TO SPEAK LOCAL LANGUAGES.

    What do you have to say on english ?? Is it the language of your forefathers ? Or only language of success as quoted by liberals and proved wrong by most successful countries on earth !

    Democracy ? there are many countries functioning great in a monarchy too! Get your facts right !Recommend

  • Abdullah

    It is ENGLISH supremacists who impose english language and culture down your throat !

    Almost all successful countries promote and use their own language in everythingRecommend

  • Abdullah

    Urdu is made FOR pakistan (check history). Urdu is and will be used as national language to bridge the gap between the different provinces and most pakistanis are fluent in it. ALSO THEY ARE FREE TO SPEAK LOCAL LANGUAGES.

    People need to know that most successful countries rely completely on their own language and not some other language. Hence, we should strongly make a transition to URDU and eventually make it official language inshallah.

    No more of this english speaking drama ;) !!!Recommend

  • Abdullah

    NO ONE CALLS A PUNJABI SPEAKER A NON PAKISTANI.
    Some people create a fuss over everything/nothing.Recommend

  • Abdullah

    The best and most sensible comment. Recommend