Islamabad, March 13: The fifth meeting of the Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage was held yesterday, presided over by Marvi Memon.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the history and importance of Pakistan’s Mother Tongues, their National Language status, and their role in creating inter-provincial harmony along with reviewing a Concept Paper on the National Language Commission.
Over 35 speakers, Linguists, Experts and Academia had been invited from all over Pakistan for their valuable input on the subject. Balochi, Balti, Brushaski, Brahui, Hindko, Khowar, Kashmiri, Pahari, Pashto, Punjabi, Saraiki, Shina, Sindhi and other Mother Tongues were amply highlighted from participants representing the diverse areas of Pakistan.
Common Confusions between ‘National Language & Official Language’ and ‘Language & Dialect’ were eloquently addressed. It was established that a National Language is a language which is the Mother Tongue of people; and enjoys use in the political, social, and cultural realms. National Languages are mostly multiple for one country. Whereas, an official language is one which is used for the operations of the Government. Official Languages are mostly one or maximum two. Consequently, National Languages are symbolic and Official Languages are pragmatic. Similarly, there is a distinction between Language and Dialect on the basis of ‘mutual intelligibility.’
It was reiterated during the meeting that the importance of National Language was imperative in National Harmony. Member of the Standing Committee agreed that Language is the main source of communication, so it is also the best means to bring divergent people together. Developed countries have declared their major Mother Tongues as National Languages. This has helped reduce differences between different types of people living in one Country. The Committee was informed that National Languages were generally multiple in numbers as can be observed globally. A few amongst the many Countries having multiple National Languages were, China (9), India (22), Belgium (3), Namibia (11), Singapore (4), South Africa (13), Spain (5) and Switzerland (4). This has been a major contributor in nation building.
It was agreed in the meeting that it was high time that habitants of the same society should use their languages for unity and better understanding between each other. Pakistani society is a hub of ancient languages. Unfortunately, Pakistan since its inception, instead of recognizing & celebrating linguistic diversity, started its journey by denying the distinct historical status of these languages. Diversity and recognition of these languages will be the path for nation building, which is acutely required.
The Committee further discussed a working paper on the concept of the National Language Commission as envisioned by Pakistan Muslim League (N) President, Honourable, Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, in PML (N) manifesto. The PML (N) manifesto states, “Pakistan currently has many mother tongues but only one national language which is Urdu and one official language which is English. In most nation states, all major mother tongues are national languages. A National Language Commission will be set up by the PML (N) Government to develop criteria for giving the status of national languages to all major languages.” The Concept Paper incorporated the Vision of National Language Commission as, “to establish a National Language Commission which protects and promotes Mother Tongues of Pakistan, giving them National Language Status & as a result enhances nation building, education and productivity of Pakistan.”
The Standing Committee also passed following Resolution unanimously:
1. We appreciate the importance in according Pakistan’s major mother tongues like Balochi, Balti, Brushaski, Brahui, Hindko, Khowar, Kashmiri, Pahari, Pashto, Punjabi, Saraiki, Shina, Sindhi the National language status.
2. We will not allow the linguicide in Pakistan of its rich Mother Tongues.
3. We understand that all Mother Tongues of Pakistan belong to all of Pakistan rather than just one particular area.
4. We agree that all Mother Tongues are rooted to Pakistan’s soil in entirety and thereby derive their National status. Their promotion and this National status will root out sense of deprivation, prejudices and create inter provincial harmony.
5. We agree that cultural and linguistic diversity is an asset for Pakistan, which will promote education, learning and productivity.
6. We understand that this will improve inter-provincial harmony and create a national narrative much required for nation building in Pakistan.
7. We support the establishment of a National Language Commission which will ultimately decide which major Mother Tongues of Pakistan should be declared as national based on internationally accepted criteria. It will develop a language policy, fully researched, conduct language scientific survey and conduct language planning.
8. We appreciate the efforts of all those Pakistanis who have made contributions for this noble and nation building cause of National Language status, since inception of Pakistan.
9. We commit to seeing the legislation of the National Language Bill through the proper legislative routes in the tenure of this National Assembly at the earliest.
10. We commit to also protecting the endangered Mother Tongues of Pakistan through the National Language Commission.
It was decided that the Resolution will be sent to the Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights so that at time of review of “The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2014”, it should assist the Standing Committee. The Committee Members thanked the Experts for their valuable and enlightening input.
Mian Muhammad Farooq, Mr. Muhammad Tallal Chaudry, Mr. Waseem Akhtar Shaikh, Mr. Tahir Iqbal Ch., Ms. Parveen Masood Bhatti, Ms. Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, Ms. Marriyum Aurangzeb, Ms. Arifa Khalid Pervez, Syed Amir Ali Shah Jamote, Mr. Imran Zafar Leghari, Ms. Belum Hasnain, Dr. Muhammad Azhar Khan Jadoon, and Ms.Naeema Kishwer Khan, MNAs and senior Officers of Ministry of Information, Broadcasting & National Heritage and its attached Departments.