Scholars call for protection of regional languages


ISLAMABAD: Linguists, intellectuals, researchers and writers Thursday called for steps to preserve and promote regional languages as these can play vital role in promotion of cultural diversity and national integration and inter-provincial harmony. 
They were speaking at the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage meeting, chaired by Member of National Assembly, Marvi Memon.
They asked the federal and provincial governments to take concrete steps for imparting education in mother tongue and establish National Language Commission as soon as possible. 
The speakers were of the view that the regional languages are rapidly disappearing, which is a matter of concern. 
They also regretted that most educated parents do not speak to their children in their mother tongues, which is contributing to the swift decline of these languages. 
They said that Pakistan will prosper and progress by making local languages as national languages and provincial identity will be safeguarded too. 
The speakers said that there is no clash of languages in any part of the country, rather there has always been a clash of interests, political ideology and thinking which led to the destruction of languages. 
A scholar Razaaq  Sabir said that in India there are 22 national languages but here we are neglecting our regional languages. Giving example of Hebrew he said that dead anguages can be revived through government protection. 
Hindko scholars said that Hindko was spoken by 42% population of Khyber Pakhtoonkhaw but it was not given any patronisation.
Abaseen Yousufzai said that ruling elite discouraged promotion of Pushto language though its promotion can play key role in national integration. He said that KPK was museum of languages and there was need to build linguistic bridges to strengthen federation.
He suggested that new terminologies coined for Urdu should be taken from regional languages rather than foreign languages.
The committee was informed that the previous provincial government had made legislation for protection of Pushto, but the present PTI government has undone all its steps.
Punjabi scholar Saeed Farani said that all the Sufi poetry was in local languages.
Vice Chancellor Gujrat University Nizamuddin said that Punjabi language played important role in promotion of Urdu, but itself remained neglected. Dr Sughra Sadaf said that national language should be spoken at grassroots level which was not the case in our only national language. She said that all Sufi  poetry was written in regional languages and Urdu has failed to produce any Sufi poet.
Seraiki scholar Dr Saiqa Imtiaz said that Seraiki was not a variant of Punjabi as some Punjabi scholars claim. She lamented that lack of media support was also a reason behind destruction of regional languages. She said that research has proved that multi-lingual people are more talented, flexible and can be source of unity in diversity.
Promotion and protection of regional languages will end sense of deprivation and promote national harmony, she added. She quoted Lord Macaulay as telling British Parliament in 1835 that for making Indians British slaves it was necessary to delink them from national heritage and destruction of their regional languages can be important tool in this regard.
Scholars from Balti and Sheena languages spoke in Gilgit-Baltistan and said that such languages were facing extinction and their protection was vital for national integration.
Sindhi scholar Mushtaq Phulpoto said that in the past when someone talked about protection and promotion of their mother tongue, he was considered an anti-Pakistan, which was totally wrong perception. He said that English Medium schools chains reaching district level now were totally destroying the regional languages and new generation was losing link with their mother tongues.
He hoped that the dream of giving the status of national languages to regional languages was likely to materialize now and credit for this should go to the present government and Parliament. 
Dr Aatish Durrani said that adaptation of regional languages was a complicated issue and it will take time as India took 28 years on completion of this process. 

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