The debate of national language

Famous Sindhi writer and Urdu columnist Amar Jaleel who recently appeared on Wussatullah’s show on Dawn News Urdu Service started a debate by saying that Jinnah was dragged or cornered into making the following speech, and somehow told Bengalis to abandon Bengali language when he declared Urdu to be the state language of Pakistan.

This is what Jinnah said:

“About language, as I have already said, this is in order to create disruption amongst the Mussalmans. Your Prime Minister has rightly pointed this out in a recent statement and I am glad that his Government has decided to put down firmly any attempt to disturb the peace of this province by political saboteurs, their agents. Whether Bengali shall be official language of this province is a matter for the elected representatives of the people of this province to decide. I have no doubt that this question shall be decided solely in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants ‘of this province at the appropriate time. “

“Let me tell you in the clearest language that there is no truth that your normal life is going to be touched or disturbed so far as your Bengali language is concerned. But ultimately it is for you, the people of this province, to decide what shall be the language of your province. But let me make it very clear to you that the State language of Pakistan is going to be Urdu and no other language. Anyone who tries to mislead you is really the enemy of Pakistan. Without one State language, no Nation can remain tied up solidly together and function. Look at the history of other countries. Therefore, so far as the State Language is concerned, Pakistani language shall be Urdu. But, as I have said, it will come in time. ”

“Quite frankly and openly I must tell you that you have got amongst you a few communists and other agents financed by foreign help and if you are not careful, you will be disrupted. The idea that East Bengal should be brought back into the Indian Union is not given up, and it is their aim yet, and I am confident –I am not afraid, but it is better to be vigilant –that those people who still dream of getting back East Bengal into the Indian Union are living in a dream-land.

Islam has taught us this, and I think you will agree with me that whatever else you may be and whatever you are, you are a Muslim. You belong to a Nation now; you have now carved out a territory, vast territory, it is all yours; it does not belong to a Punjabi or a Sindhi, or a Pathan, or a Bengali; it is yours. You have got your Central Government where several units are represented. Therefore, if you want to build up yourself into a Nation, for God’s sake give up this provincialism. Provincialism has been one of the curses; and so is sectionalism –Shia, Sunni, etc. “ (Jinnah at Dacca University “Jinnah Speeches And Statements 1947-1948” Millennium edition Oxford University Press)

What Jinnah said clearly relegated Bengali to the status of a regional language. That must have been difficult for Bengali nationalists to swallow. The terms ’state language, lingua franca, national language’ mean different things. Urdu could not have been a lingua franca between its two wings because Bengalis except in Dhaka perhaps would not have understood Urdu much. It was a belief in the early years that the nations needed one language to form and strengthen national identity. What happened in reaction is known history. Bengali was declared a national language within the next three or four years and that later became part of the 1956 constitution. Even in 1956 other languages such as Sindhi, Balochi, Sariaki, pushtoo and Hazara were ignored. What was the harm in declaring them national languages too?

In 1973 Constitution it was maintained as

251. National language.(1) The National language of Pakistan is Urdu, and arrangements shall be made for its being used for official and other purposes within fifteen years from the commencing day.

Though English is still the official language…Urdu is waiting for the status given to it by the constitution but demands from all the languages spoken i Pakistan to be declared as National Language persists…..

Fakhar Zaman, chairman of the Academy of Letters Pakistan on  Jan 27, 2005 as the chairman of World Punjabi Congress (WPC)  demanded the establishment of federal Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtu and Balochi universities on the pattern of the federal Urdu university and declaration of Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtu and Balochi as national languages, just like Urdu, rather than regional languages.

Here are two News Segment from Today News…..

Intellectuals demand national language status for Sindhi

Friday, February 26, 2010
By our correspondent

Sindhi linguists, educationists and scholars have demanded to the government that Sindhi be recognised as a national language in the province.

In this regard a draft was prepared by a nine-member committee, headed by renowned scholar and ex-chairman of Sindhi Adabi Boar Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo. The draft states that all the nationalities living in the country have already demanded that their mother tongues be declared as national languages of the country, and Urdu be made only the working language.

The nine-member committee was designed by Sindhi Language Authority (SLA), an autonomous body whose chairperson Dr Fahmida Hussain and secretary Taj Joyo are also members of the committee. Other members include former vice chancellor Sindh University Dr Ghulam Ali Alana, Director Sindh Culture Department Muhammad Ali Manjhi, renowned poet Imdad Hussaini, Secretary General Sindhi Adabi Sangat Yousaf Sindhi and others.

The draft reads that even the government-run literary institution Pakistan Academy of Letters, in 1994, declared all the languages spoken in the country are national languages. The draft termed it as an injustice with the people of Pakistan that their mother tongues are not given status of national languages.

The draft says that Sindhi is the original language of the Indus Valley people, which possesses all the peculiarities of a developed language of the world and fulfils the criteria of being a national language. It is rich in folk, classical, modern, progressive and ancient literature. People in Sindh are very much conscious and emotional about their language and culture.

The draft argues that the separation of former East Pakistan was also a result of the controversy over the national language. The draft also maintains that the language riots in Sindh urban areas in 1972 after the separation of East Pakistan were a conspiracy against the Sindhi language.

It justifies that the experts of linguistic science have set principles that any language may be declared a national language which is used by the people in their every day lives; that has been spoken by a nation from time immemorial and that is being used as official and court language and also as a medium of institutions from primary up to the higher education. Moreover, that is being used for its literary and media communication; which is able to borrow and use the words and phrases from other developed languages of the world and can transform that stock of words according to its own grammatical structure, which is originated from the language of the soil of that nation.

The draft reads that there is no clear provision regarding the national languages in the recently announced National Education Policy 2009.

Moreover, former Vice Chancellor Sindh University and author of more than 100 books, Dr Nabi Bakhsh Baloch, has expressed dissatisfaction on the role of political parties and successive governments which, according to him, never brought the language issue for discussion at major forums.

At a recently held seminar, he said that Pakistan is a multi-cultural, multi-national and multi-lingual country. At each small valley the people had their own mother tongue, which needed to be promoted at state level. He claimed that no work was done regarding the national language issue or the problems of languages in the country. He also backed Sindhi language to be declared national language.

The seminar, was a part of, ‘Sindhi Language—National Language’, a recently launched campaign for the support of the Sindhi language.

Bilour says Urdu is not national language

PESHAWAR: NWFP senior minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour triggered another controversy Friday when he declared Urdu only a language for coordination, denying its status of national language, ARY NEWS reported.

“A language can only be declared national when it is being used by the whole nation. Thus Urdu is not our national language but a language for mutual coordination among the masses,” Bilour said on assembly floor when responding to a query by MPA Moulvi Abdullah during Question Hour.

Bilour’s comments annoyed various parliamentarians from both sides of the house who criticized his statement.

On a point of order, Mufti Kifayatullah – an MPA of Jamiat Ulema Islam-F, quoted the Article 251 of the Constitution that categorically declared Urdu as Pakistan’s national language.

He said senior minister is committing an intentional violation of the Constitution despite having oath on it and sought Speaker’s ruling on the issue.

However, the opposition members walked out from the session as Speaker Karamatullah Chugharmati, who belongs to the same ruling Awami National Party (ANP) Bilour is associated with, refrained himself  from offering any solid ruling on the issue.

The same case is with Balochi, Saraiki, Barohi and Hinko also. Now Its upon us to accomodate different point of views  or be in the state of denial and declare other agents or commies or separatists as unfortunately our founding father has said in the written speech(by Ch. Muhammad Ali).



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