Pakistan

Punjabi yet to get its due status in Pakistan

Neel Kamal | August 20, 2017 03:11 PM
Demonstrations in Pakistan for implementation of Punjabi language (File Pic)

Neel Kamal

Decades After Independence, Punjabi Does Not Have Official Language Status In Land Of Its Origin

Punjab was torn apart by Partition and the plight of Punjabi language in its land of origin adds insult to injury. Seventy years after partition, Punjabi is still struggling to get official recognition. The language is not the medium of instruction in schools and colleges in Punjab province of Pakistan.

In the 18th amendment in April 2010, the rights of the provincial governments with regard to promotion of languages were strengthened. Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces used this right to promote their languages but Punjab province did not evince any interest,“ said Ahmad Raza, president, Punjabi Parchar.

Punjabi is spoken by over 44% of 20 crore Pakistanis. It is the lingua franca of two-thirds of the population in Punjab but it does not have the status of official language even in the province. In Pakistan, Punjabi is written in the Shahmukhi script.

A number of socio-cultural outfits are trying to get Punjabi official status. Demonstrations for the cause are common at Lahore, Sahiwal, Pakpattan and Faislabad on International Mother Language Day on February 21.

The language is only taught as an elective subject at intermediate graduation and postgraduation levels. Nearly a dozen organisations are fighting to end discrimination against the language.

Director, Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) Diep Saeeda said, “Baluchi, Sindhi and Pashto are being taught in the other three provinces of Pakistan and only Punjabi is being neglected. We have been fighting against such discrimination for over four years but the government remains unmoved.“

A writ petition has been filed in Lahore high court to give the language its due. Other languages like Urdu, Pashto and Balochi have gained prominence across Pakistan. Urdu is the official language in Pakistan despite the fact that it is spoken much less than Punjabi. Pashto and Balochi have also received recognition in the provinces of Baluchistan, Sindhi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“According to the constitutional amendment of 1973, Pakistan federal government gave provincial governments the right to promote their own language and culture. In the 18th amendment in April 2010, the rights of the provincial governments with regard to promotion of languages were strengthened. Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces used this right to promote their languages but Punjab province did not evince any interest,“ said Ahmad Raza, president, Punjabi Parchar.

“Article 251 of the constitution of the Republic of Pakistan binds the provinces to adopt necessary measures for promotion, teaching and usage of regional languages but Punjab government has not taken any step in that direction and has not adopted measures to teach Punjabi in schools,“ said Punjabi Parchar general secretary Tariq Jatala. Punjabi Adabi Board and Punjabi Khojgah are also struggling to get official status for the language. “After failing to get any assurance from the provincial government about official status for the language, I filed a petition in the Lahore high court in 2013 demanding directions to the government to use Punjabi as a medium of instruction at least up to the primary level and to teach it as a compulsory subject up to the graduation level. A few arguments have already taken place on the petition,“ Punjab Adabi Board general secretary and noted writer Parveen Malik said over the phone from Lahore.

Writer Maqsood Saqib, said, “Punjabi language has a long history. It goes back before the times of Baba Farid. We do not need to bend before authorities as Punjabi language is strong.“ (From Times of India)

 

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