Islamabad, Pakistan: Scholars are responsible for the survival of their mother languages and a heavy responsibility lies on the shoulders of writers, poets, and academicians to promote their regional languages in every responsible society. The Punjabi language suffered a lot because it had been tagged by mainstream media in Pakistan as a language of low profile, low intellect, and ignorant people.
This was observed by participants at a discussion arranged by the Academy of Letters of Pakistan in collaboration with Punjabi Adbi Parchaar here on Tuesday to celebrate International Mother Language Day.
The title of the discussion was “Qumi Hum Aangi may Zabano ka kirdar (The role of languages for national integration). The Chairman Academy of Letters Pakistan Dr. Yousuf Khushk appreciated participants providing citing from all over the world while referring to their languages and he informed participants that Pakistan had a rich culture spreading over mountains, plains, deserts, and seawater and every region offered its own texture, historical background, culture, and languages. He added that UNESCO had recognized 74 languages of Pakistan while working on approval of more six languages was underway.
He was of the view that the Academy of Letters wanted to get input from experts from all regions so better and doable recommendations could be documented. He was of the opinion that no nation could survive without protecting and promoting culture, languages and literature.
Academician, writer, and author from Charles University Prague, Shazia Anwer Cheema was of the view that she belonged to a generation that was denied speaking the Punjabi language because society had opted for Urdu and English languages as languages of educated and respectable strata of society.
“By choice, my generation went back to their language because we felt there was something snatched away from my generation and something missing to anchor our generation. Our Balochi, Sindhi, and Pushton friends did not face the derogation of their languages as Punjabi people faced because their languages had never been portrayed as languages of low class, illiterate strata of society, and ignorant people. Still, Punjabi was portrayed by mainstream media as a language of poor, illiterate low-class people,” she commented.
She was of the view that Urdu and English languages had a status that Sanskrit had in the ancient Indo-subcontinent while Punjabi was considered a language of low class as Prakrit at that time.
She mentioned that the 1973 Constitution ensured that Urdu would replace all other languages as the language of state operating within the next 15 years but Urdu failed to get its status till now although it should have taken the status of state language by 1988. She was of the view that there was a drastic need to amend Article 251 of the 1973 Constitution because this Article has become redundant and while amending this Article now the respectful status of other languages must be ensured.
“Within 15 years Urdu would be the language of state but it did till 1988 and English stayed as the state language but Punjabi went in the background and Urdu failed to take over the state operations,” Shazia Anwer Cheema commented.
Dr. Yousaf Khushk chaired the discussion while chief guests included Hafeez Khan and Parveen Malik. The event was moderated by Tariq Bhatti.
Participants of the discussion included Dr. Haneef Khalil (Pashtu), Syed Majid Shah (Hindko), Dr. Hakim Ali Bardo (Sindhi), Dr. Shazia Akbar (Urdu), Dr. Mushtaq Adil (Punjabi), Shazia Anwer Cheema (Punjabi), Dr. Zafar Hussain Zafar (Kashmiri), Panah Baloch (Balochi), Abdul Khaliq Taj (Shina), Ahsan Danish (Balti).