Depoliticising languages

Even to this day, politics and social structures are deeply divided over conflicts surrounding language

Editorial February 25, 2019

Languages spoken in a country play a pivotal role in forming the collective identity of various ethnicities as a nation, as it simultaneously reflects on the diverse origins and cultural arrangements of these groups.

Linguistically, Pakistan’s history has been no less turbulent, even to this day, politics and social structures are deeply divided over conflicts surrounding language, Muhajir and Seraiki sooba are terms pointing at the lingual connotations attached to issues that are more national than of a group or groups.

Past week, National Language Day was observed across the country to revive and promote national and regional languages of the country. Apart from languages or linguistic departments being highly neglected ones by both the public and private offices, there are countless lesser known reasons for the loss of the beauty and the richness that languages have added to our lives for the longest of time.

It is only in public schools that regional languages are taught as mandatory subjects, private schools and universities offer courses in foreign languages only.

Even the day to celebrate the unity in diversity has actually become a tool to push across political motives often with the intent to trigger the sentiments of those who confuse nationhood with political ideology and language.

Politics here needs to be separated from languages. Albeit a long shot, efforts should be directed at the enrichment of lingual culture. The federal ministry for culture must take the lead here to ensure that alongside a strong language policy that details revival of regional languages and their usage, language departments are formed in both the public and private sector universities and schools. Among the local political stakeholders and groups languages must also be depoliticised.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2019.

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