Around 27 languages spoken in Kashmir, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and surrounding border areas of Pakistan are facing extinction, according to a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
Language is the source of communication, education and progress and their (languages) extinction discontinues the transfer of social values to the coming generation and eventually the language is declared to be dead, the report said.
In Pakistan, Punjabi has the highest number of speakers, which are 48 percent of the total population. Sindhi is spoken by 12 per cent of the population, Pashtu and Urdu eight per cent, Balochi three per cent, Hindko two per cent and Barohi one per cent.
The most common languages spoken across the world include Chinese, Spanish, English, Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi and Urdu.
According to a research, Punjabi is ranked 11th and Urdu the 19th most popular language in the world.
A total 6,912 languages are spoken in the world, while 516 have been declared dead languages. However, 36 per cent of the existing languages are endangered and may die soon due to globalisation, the research added.
Talking to APP, Deputy Secretary National Language Authority (NLA) Rashid Hameed said that the NLA is solely dealing with the promotion of Urdu, while some language authorities are working at a provincial level to preserve languages which are in danger of becoming extinct.
Some local language authorities acquire funding from the government and must work for the preservation of the less spoken languages, he said.
Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) Chairman Fakhar Zaman said that all the languages spoken in Pakistan are the national languages of the country. “All languages in the country are Pakistani languages and we should strive to make the mother tongue a part of the curriculum at the primary level,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2011.