Laws for language: If the British used Sindhi, why shouldn’t we, experts urge minister

Published: February 16, 2012
The bill called for using Sindhi for official correspondence and asked the National Assembly to grant it the status of a national language. DESIGN : ANAM HALEEM

The bill called for using Sindhi for official correspondence and asked the National Assembly to grant it the status of a national language. DESIGN : ANAM HALEEM

HYDERABAD: Encouraged by the consensus reached in the National Assembly over the 20th constitutional amendment, Sindhi writers and scholars lobbied for Sindhi, Punjabi, Balochi and Pushto to be acknowledged as national languages.

The representatives of the Sindhi Adabi Sangat (SAS), Sindhi Language Authority, Sindh Democratic Forum, author Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo and others met with the federal law and parliamentary affairs minister, Maula Bux Chandio, on Wednesday. They asked the minister to fight for national status for Sindhi in the National Assembly.

Dr Fehmida Hussain, the chairperson of the Sindhi Language Authority, asked the minister to form a language commission comprising officials, writers and scholars for the languages.  However, Chandio, despite being receptive to their demands, expressed a lack of optimism about the passage of the bill in the near future.

“The federation is rife with misgivings,” he told the delegation. “First it will correct the structure before such a bill can sail through.”

The SAS launched a three-week long campaign from February 1 for the implementation of a bill passed unanimously by the Sindh Assembly in 1972. The organisations’ leaders, Mehrunissa Larik, Amin Lakho and Zaib Nizamani, want the enforcement of a 1972 bill. It called for using Sindhi for official correspondence and asked the National Assembly to grant it the status of a national language. “All the major languages of the provinces should be given national status,” said Larik. “Even the Britishers used Sindhi as an official language,” she claimed. The SAS will organise an event on February 21, which is International Mother Language Day, to press for their demands.

The National Assembly’s standing committee rejected a similar bill in May 2011, introduced by former MNA Marvi Memon. The names of Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Saeed Ahmed Zafar and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement MNA Iqbal Qadri have surfaced with objections to the bill.

But Chandio said that the bill lay with the constitutional committee. The standing committee on law and justice had scrutinised the bill. “It will get through,” he said, but did not say when. Some members in the Standing Committee opposed the bill, he added, but did not name them.

20th Amendment

Chandio criticised political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which supported the bill, for calling parliament a powerless institution. “The same parties, who would say that parliament is ineffective, voted for the 20th amendment.”

He called the bill a historic achievement for all political forces. “It will pave the way for free, fair and transparent elections,” he said.

Chandio said that the bill also placated the concerns of Sindhi nationalists. He did not, however, say anything about his party’s position if the MQM introduced the 21st constitutional amendment bill for the creation of new provinces without the approval of provincial assemblies. “I don’t believe in ifs and buts,” was his reply. “We will reveal our stance only when such a development takes place.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • ahmed
    Feb 16, 2012 - 7:05AM

    Sindhis should have full right. Panjabi urdu can not be forced upon them.


  • arsalan amjad
    Feb 16, 2012 - 7:18AM

    the sindhi community is rightly very proud of their language and their culture,sindhi is taught in sindh’s schools,there are numerous sindhi language newspapers as well as sindhi tv channels.sadly,the same cannot be said about the punjabi language which is not taught at all in punjab’s schools,there are no punjabi language newspapers,all of punjab reads urdu newspapers,there is no punjabi pugree day like there is an annual sindhi topi day.there hardly any punjabi tv channels even though punjabis have a huge population in our country.


  • Critique
    Feb 16, 2012 - 8:46AM

    What about Seraiki? :(

    Let’s just make English the national language instead


  • Liberalache
    Feb 16, 2012 - 8:56AM

    Well and good to make Sindhi a national language…that is a must. However, making it required for official correspondence is just stupid. You’d be making an already useless government even more inaccessible and useless because of language barriers and inability to communicate. Sindhi is an important language of Pakistan, leave it at that and people will appreciate it…push for more and you’ll look bad to the rest of us.


  • Imran Siddiqui
    Feb 16, 2012 - 9:46AM

    This is a very good and laudable step. Sindhi is the national language of the Sindhi nation whether someone calls it a national language or not. Ditto for Punjabi, Bengali, Gujrati, Pashto, Balochi and Brahvi languages of their respective nations.

    The conspiracy to impose Urdu on the people of Pakistan has made it a controversial language because it is not native language of Pakistanis and was imported by people coming from Hindustan to Pakistan.

    You cannot murder the language and culture of other people and still hope to make friends. Urdu speaking should learn to accept Pakistan’s native national languages.Recommend

  • Feb 16, 2012 - 9:48AM

    too many dots to contend/wrestle with.


  • mian mitho
    Feb 16, 2012 - 10:38AM

    Sindhi’s can study all the Sindhi they want but please stop forcing it down the throat of Karachites.


  • mian mitho
    Feb 16, 2012 - 10:40AM

    /The conspiracy to impose Urdu on the people of Pakistan has made it a controversial language because it is not native language of Pakistanis and was imported by people coming from Hindustan to Pakistan./

    Dude, Pakistan was Hindustan before 1947.


  • Naseem Kabooro
    Feb 16, 2012 - 10:56AM

    Once you understand the dots, that now you are to wrestle with, you would be the proud to be the LANGUAGE SINDHI.
    May that day come in your short life.


  • Sanaa Rasheed
    Feb 16, 2012 - 11:16AM

    I somewhat agree with them; who says we can only have one National language? Sindhi, Punjabi, Siraiki, Urdu.. they can all be national languages.

    However, we should: 1. Give students the option of learning any of the national languages they choose, not make it compulsory for them to study a particular language based on the province they live in; and 2. Let official correspondence be in the preferred language of those using it, or in a common language which is understood by all.


  • Feb 16, 2012 - 1:28PM

    @Naseem Kabooro:
    Another problem is that the lives of sindhi people is short due to lack of hygienic conditions in many areas, shortage of quality food and water, sanitation etc. The short lifespan also prevents them from influencing people into learning their language.


  • Ali S
    Feb 16, 2012 - 4:51PM

    @Imran Siddiqui:
    “You cannot murder the language and culture of other people and still hope to make friends. Urdu speaking should learn to accept Pakistan’s native national languages.”

    How ironic. Why can’t you just say that all native Pakistani languages in Pakistan deserve mutual respect instead of singling out ethnicity?


  • Syed
    Feb 16, 2012 - 5:47PM

    @ Imran Siddiqui
    I am a urdu speaking resident of Karachi, I learnt Sindhi in School , and could also speak in it. 10 years have passed since, I have forgotten the language. Why ?? not because i dont like the language, or I reject it, but because I was never required to speak it anywhere, Urdu speaking people living in interior Sindh speak very fluent Sindhi because they can, and have to use it there, its useless to impose a language on people who can never use it in there life. I know more Punjabi than Sindhi, why ?? because they have marketed their language, not imposed it on me.


  • M. Ahmed
    Feb 16, 2012 - 5:48PM

    In 1952, the Bengalis too demanded for recognition of their mother tongue as the national language of Pakistan. Pakistan did not listen. The voice of the people must be heard.


  • Mehran
    Feb 16, 2012 - 6:27PM

    What a bounty of freedom to Sindhis. Their language and culture has no place in this federation. In so called British occupation, Sindhi was official language of Sindh and what an irony, in India today, Sindhi and Punjabi are considered national language but Alas! today in so called free country, we are deprived of our language. What message does this ruling elite sending to Sindhis. Are we occupied people in this federation?


  • Mehran
    Feb 16, 2012 - 6:30PM

    Urdu is first language of hardly 5 to 8 percent population. Let is be communication language between people of different province. But Sindhi, Punjabi, Pushto, Siraiki, and Balochi are language of this land. They belong to us. We should be proud of our languages and culture, not ashamed of. And we are not against Urdu language, The imposition of Urdu as sole language upon whole Pakistan is injustice.


  • fus
    Feb 16, 2012 - 11:39PM

    Do you think the people in Sindh, or other improverished area are suffering because Urdu was made the national language. You know the truth it is beause of your native, sindhi, Seraiki, baluchi etc speaking leaders who have kept you in this situation. You need a lanugaue for communication, and Urdu has always been that language, this is why you would find Sindhi or Punjabi native speaking poets who have written in urdu even before the partition. Secondly Urdu is not owned by anyone, everyone should own it without the expense of any other regional language. how do you expect some from Turbat to communicate with someone in Kashmore, you need a common lanugauge, And Urdu was made that language of communication not to impose any culture or to force anyone to stop using his or her mother tongue. Our issues are beyond this but we choose to make this an issue. Other languages should be promoted, the studens should be given option to run other languages in school or college and possibly some international language in university. You can make as many mantional language as you want but urdu would still be the common language of communication.


  • hoshu
    Feb 17, 2012 - 12:50AM

    @ mian mitho; you must have fell off the stupid tree huh? Sindhi is spoken in Karachi; maybe if you didn’t isolate yourself from other ethnic groups you would know that…dude (sarcastically); Your use of ‘dude’ shows you are a sell out trying to be angraiz; if people living in Sindh do not want to learn and speak Sindhi, that is their loss; but Sindhi is the official language of Sindh by law; so all official communication must be in Sindhi and it must be taught to all students of Sindh. If they get older and dont use it; that’s their perogative.


  • Feb 17, 2012 - 2:57AM

    @mian mitho:
    Urdu has been imposed ‘down the throat’ of every Pakistani that wishes to even pass their Matriculation, let alone speak. When the same is done to the Urdu speakers with regards to Sindhi, we hear the complain you just made. Isn’t this Ironic?

    I disagree with your notion. You are putting the whole blame of educational backwardness on feudals while completely ignoring the fact that poor people who can’t even afford decent education and forced to study in government schools, cannot even pass their Matriculation exam without clearing their Urdu paper. According to survey conducted in 85 districts across Pakistan, over 40% school going children cannot read Urdu. This translates into only 60% of school going children having an actual chance of passing their matriculation exam in the first place. Who would want struggle learning a language they will not be using much?
    There is a desperate need for you to study this article for clarity of thought regarding this matter.


  • Naseem Kabooro
    Feb 17, 2012 - 11:36AM

    Sindhis are deliberately forced backward, one by them their own landlords, and by their own country fellows.
    So, who to blame on?


  • Amjad
    Feb 17, 2012 - 7:20PM

    @mian mitho: Free your mind dude. Hindustan was never a country! There was just a British colony before Pakistan.Recommend

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