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Steps urged to preserve smaller languages

PESHAWAR: Smaller languages spoken in northern areas of Pakistan such as Khoway should be promoted and preserved by government, speakers at a consultative session said.

The event was arranged by the Forum for Language Initiatives (FLI), a non-profit organisation working on the documentation and promotion of smaller languages of northern Pakistan. A number of speakers of smaller languages from Chitral, Swat, Kohistan, Dir and other parts of the region attended the event.

Speaking on the occasion, FLI consultant Mohammad Zaman Sagar said until recently there was little or no awareness of linguistic diversity of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other adjacent areas, including Gilgit-Baltistan. He said that most of the work on these smaller languages was done by the English.

However, he said at FLI they had trained a number of local youth under the foreign language researchers and now these local researchers were working to preserve and document their mother tongues. 

He said the KP government in 2011 had declared smaller languages such as Pashto, Hindko, Seraiki, Khowar and Kohistani as regional languages and decided to teach them in schools. However, he added that teaching in regional languages was still a dream.

Mr Sagar said curriculum to teach in smaller languages was available and being taught in many schools at local level.

He said there was little work done for implementation of the decision regarding five languages as well as setting up the KP Regional Languages Authority.

Zubair Torwali, director of Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi, said these languages were still being discriminated against. He said funds were being spent on promotion of Pashto language while sometimes back a Hindko Academy was also set up. However, there was no progress with regard to other languages. 

MPA from Kolai Palas, Obaidur Rehman, on this occasion assured the participants that he would take up the issues of regional languages with the provincial government.

CM’s special assistant Wazir Zada said he would raise the issue of setting up KP Regional Languages Authority with the chief minister and get funds approved for languages-related initiatives.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2022

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