We’re looking at seventy years of linguistic terrorism

 

The Importance of Language

 

The richness and diversity we have in terms of linguistics is paramount, whose significance has never been appreciated and has been cast away. All these regional languages are a representation, they speak the cultural milieu of those areas and what they stand for. The irony is that languages are treated like lepers, cast out and overridden by our national bias aversion to study English by us urbanites

 

 

It’s been a whirlwind of seventy years of independence for our country, irrespective of the setbacks it has stood tall and proud. But even after seven decades, an identity crisis afflicts this nation which it still hasn’t overcome. Time hasn’t healed all the wounds and we still stand divided on grounds of language and culture.

Pakistan, in many ways, is blessed with a wealth of history and the plethora of regional languages that have existed for centuries and is very much indigenous and rooted into our culture. Such striking variety, linguistically is a rarity that cannot be undermined in any given regard. Every regional language whether its Saraiki, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pushto and countless others have a distinct identity, history, knowledge, culture and place of its own. In all these years we have assigned such levels of discrimination to the existence of such linguistical history, which is shocking.

These regional languages are a vestige of culture, folklore that has formed the crux of this society that has embedded within it countless traditions for centuries. Uniqueness of a Pashto speaking Pathan cannot be compared with one who would speak Sindhi for example, both stand for their culture and traditions which cannot be transcended upon. The association of those who speak these languages has an emotional and spiritual barrier of sorts, whose sensitivity cannot be assessed.

The richness and diversity we have in terms of linguistics is paramount, whose significance has never been appreciated and has been cast away. All these regional languages are a representation, they speak the cultural milieu of those areas and what they stand for. The irony is that languages are treated like lepers, cast out and overridden by our national bias aversion to study English by us urbanites. There are financial reasons for it of course, because English is a necessity to get good jobs and in getting admissions abroad.

But what distances us is the indifference we show to the existence of such richness of countless different languages spoken, for example Punjabi has so many dialects. The lack of regional integration in Pakistan has personally hurt us as a nation and contributing to this decay is our aversion to all those languages which lie dormant or keep dying a slow and painful death. Not that efforts aren’t underway by a few brilliant individuals to revive the traditions of linguistics but government apathy to promoting the use of all these languages to bring us closer and connect with a shared heritage is a reality we cannot ignore.

As a nation, we have the habit of abhorring languages and classifying them with social status, at times speaking Punjabi, Pushto or Sindhi in public would be a condemnation and get you classified as a “paindu” in many a circumstance. I personally for example have no clue as to the great writers we have in all these regional languages and what they stood for. The disconnectivity of us majority of Pakistanis with this reality, wouldn’t raise eyebrows because it doesn’t help us in any given manner, we remain attracted to western ideals but fail to appreciate the existence of the rich heritage which is invaluable.

In all these seventy years, we have denied these languages their inheritance and right to be brought into the mainstream, our national language being Urdu for example may not be spoken in rural areas of Sindh, Hindko in Mansehra region and so much diversification exists which would be maddening for us class conscious urbanites. The promotion of languages from all our four provinces can be a harbinger of culture integration and give us all an opportunity to study/understand the cultural dynamics at play, raise our awareness levels in regard to the traditions they bring forth.

Bashing our national linguistic heritage as trash has been a favourite pastime for majority of the population, which has never realised the sensitivity and beauty these languages make up. We have indulged in linguistic terrorism for far too long and damaged the credentials of this multi-cultured nation in last seventy years since independence, that now the time has come for us to put an end to this discrimination

Languages act as a conduit for transfer of knowledge, culture across generations and ensure it’s safekeeping over the course of time. We as a nation ourselves are involved and paving the way for the death of these languages, especially the affluent class which sees it with disdain and contempt.

As a bystander and lover of history, I see all these regional languages as a tool to propel us closer, be a unifying factor by cross studying and promoting the use of all these regional languages across the country in our curriculum, which would enable us to realise the immense value of our combined heritage and identify the values associated with them. Not only will it promote tolerance but help us better recognise with the linguistic ethnicity of the individual and the region they hail from.

Bashing our national linguistic heritage as trash has been a favourite pastime for majority of the population, which has never realised the sensitivity and beauty these languages make up. We have indulged in linguistic terrorism for far too long and damaged the credentials of this multi-cultured nation in last seventy years since independence, that now the time has come for us to put an end to this discrimination.

The study of regional languages in all our four provinces is the dire need of the hour and in turbulent times like today, a major tool to be used for promotion of tolerance, peace and harmony which this nation lacks. Not only can it act as a way of fostering closeness, but become a route to discovering our linguistic past which is steeped in diversity, once if dwelled in would only rekindle the ethos of a glorious past.

May Pakistan be blessed always and may it be as diversified and full of variety as it has been 70 years after independence. My only dream is to see Pakistan as a vestige of tolerance where all cultures and traditions are appreciated alongside their linguistic heritage.

 




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