ISLAMABAD, Feb 23: Writers, poets, human rights activists and intellectuals representing 15 languages here on Sunday demanded the national status for all the languages in the country.
They also called for legislation for the protection, promotion and preservation of the languages.
The literary personalities were speaking at the “Festival of Pakistani mother languages” arranged by the Sindh Graduates Association (SGA) in connection with the International Mother Language Day here on Sunday.
It may be mentioned that on February 21, 1948, the students of Dhaka University in the then East Pakistan held a protest demonstration demanding that Bangla language should be declared as the national language of Pakistan because 56 per cent population of the country spoke the Bangla language. The police opened fire on the participants killing five students. Unesco declared April 21 as the International Mother Language Day.
Most of the speakers at the Islamabad gathering on Sunday spoke in their mother languages, including Balochi, Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Urdu, Brahvi, Broshaski, Dhatki, Gujrati, Hazargi, Khowar, Hindko, Kashmiri, Potohari and Seraiki. The speakers demanded that the federal government should declare all the Pakistani languages as national languages.
Writer Naseer Memon said the language rights movement started in Bangladesh when Pakistani authorities refused to give the language rights to the majority people.
“Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan refused to declare Bangla as the national language due to which differences between the people of East and West Pakistan increased. We need to take measures to promote and preserve Pakistani languages so that the history of Bangladesh does not repeat itself,” he said.
“We have our strength in our culture and we can use the culture against extremism and terrorism. The government should give the status of official language to all important languages,” he said.
Writer and intellectual Ahmed Saleem said the responsibility of promoting languages lies with the state and its authorities. “Pakistan is a multi-cultural and multi-lingual country and all the languages should be promoted and preserved by the state,” he said.
President SGA Yousuf Memon said the association provided a platform for all the communities living in the capital to promote their cultures and languages.
The participants passed a resolution demanding that all provincial governments, including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir, should own and promote the respective mother languages of their provinces/territories through special measures like promoting and preserving their literature, ensuring teaching in all public and private schools, opening jobs in various government functions for people having expertise in these languages etc.
They demanded special measures by provincial governments to encourage teaching of regional languages as medium of instructions in schools.
The participants also urged the National University of Modern Languages to teach masters courses in literature and language of all major Pakistani languages.
They demanded that Pemra should also bound electronic media, particularly private TV and FM radio channels, to air programmes in mother languages for a specific duration every day and take measures to issue licences to community radios.]]>