A tongue twister: Pashto, Saraiki jostle for space on syllabi

Published: February 22, 2016
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Participants of a rally organised by Saraikistan Qaumi Movement (SQM) and All Saraiki Ittehad. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Participants of a rally organised by Saraikistan Qaumi Movement (SQM) and All Saraiki Ittehad. PHOTO: EXPRESS

BATKHELA/LAKKI MARWAT / PESHAWAR / DI KHAN / HANGU: International Mother Language Day was celebrated at sporadic events in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday. Various literary organisations drew attention to the importance of regional languages, demanding their inclusion as a subject at schools and colleges and vowed to preserve them from extinction.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced the observation of this day in November 1999.An event was organised at Bacha Khan Markaz in the provincial capital to mark the occasion. ANP Central General Secretary Mian Iftikhar and ANP Senior Vice President Bushra Gohar attended the occasion.

A peace walk was organised in Batkhela to highlight the importance of Pashto. Representatives from a large number of literary organisations and writers from Malakand and Dir took part in the walk.

The rally started at Zafar Park and concluded at Malakand Press Club where several people addressed the participants. Speakers said Pashto was an old language spoken by a significant number of people in Pakistan. They demanded Pashto be taught as a subject in schools and colleges.

Many of them raised concerns over vacancies at institutes for Pashto teachers, saying they should be filled at once.

Recitals

A seminar was held in Lakki Marwat to mark the occasion. The event was organised by Ranra Literary Jirga and attended by poets, litterateurs and writers. They urged the government to make Pashto a mandatory subject till class ten. In Hangu, a poetry recital was held to commemorate the occasion. The event was held at the agricultural department’s office in Hangu. Pashto poets recited poems and drew attention to the need to preserve the language.

Ode to Saraiki

A walk was held in DI Khan to highlight the need to preserve Saraiki from extinction.

The rally was organised by Saraikistan Qaumi Movement (SQM) and All Saraiki Ittehad. Representatives from both organisations gathered at Town Hall.

SQM Central Secretary General Saifullah Biqarar said Saraiki-speakers in the district should work towards protecting their language. “Rulers in Lahore and Peshawar are exploiting the rights of Saraiki-speaking people while using government resources,” he said. “Unfortunately, the government is neglecting [the importance of] Saraiki.”

All Saraiki Ittehad President Khalid Hamid said a large number of people speak Saraiki, but they have mostly been ignored. He added the formation of a Saraiki province would be formative for the identity of those who speak the language. Participants demanded a Saraiki department should be established at Gomal University.

They also raised concerns over the influx of Afghan refugees and tribespeople in the district, saying it encroached upon the rights of the Saraiki-speaking population. They demanded an enquiry into how Afghan refugees and tribespeople have been offered CNICs and domiciles, respectively. Participants also burnt effigies of political leaders from Lahore and Peshawar.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd,  2016.

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