Former senator and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawabzada Mir Lashkari Khan Raisani announced on Sunday that he would extend his full support to Brahui writers, intellectuals and researchers. The ancient language has been declared as one of the endangered languages of the world by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
Brahui is a Dravidian language spoken by the local people in central Balochistan and Afghanistan. The 2013 edition of Ethnologue reports that there are some 4.2 million speakers; 4 million live in Pakistan. According to a 2009 Unesco report, Brahui is one of the 27 languages of Pakistan that is facing the danger of extinction.
He said this while addressing the two-day Brahui Literacy Seminar, which began on Sunday at the Arts Council of Pakistan. About two hundred participants, including writers, researchers, poets and scholars from Balochistan and Sindh, were also present for the seminar. Raisani also said that Brahui is one of the most ancient languages of Pakistan and the government and other stakeholders should do more to promote it.
The chief guest of the seminar, Balochistan Prosecutor General Mir Salahuddin Mengal said that injustices were done to the language. He said that the language is not aired enough on state-run television stations and the Brahui literary journals, which were previously published by the government, have also been closed down. He added that while all other languages of Pakistan have been included in the competitive examinations of CSS, Brahui has been excluded. About 12 research papers on different aspects of Brahui language were presented during the first day of the conference. While presenting their papers on the linguistic history of the Brahui language, Nazir Ahmed Shakir, Ali Hassan Malah, Ghulam Mustafa Solangi and others said that it is essentially the ancient Dravidian language of the Indus region and there were many similarities between Brahui and Sindhi languages. The researchers said that the resemblance in Sindhi, Brahui and Tamil languages proves that they are all Dravidian and after the attacks by Aryans, some stayed in the Indus region, others travelled up to the hills and some went as far as Sri Lanka and parts of India.
Other researchers who presented their papers included Saima Hassan, Zauk Brahui, Mir Brahui, Haji Abdul Latif Bangulzai, Sultan Ahmed Shahwani, Sarmad Brahui, Waheed Zaheer, Professor Ghulam Dastagir Sabir, and Abdul Qayyum Bedar.
The scholars claimed that in order to make it seem that the population of Brahui-speaking people had reduced, the language was excluded from the census form in 1997. They said that Baloch and Pashto academies had been provided plots and grants to construct their offices while Brahui Academy does not have an office. Similarly, Baloch and Pashto academies in Balochistan receive over 50 million rupees each in annual grants while Brahui Academy only gets about one to two million rupees per year.
More research papers on Brahui language will be presented today, which will be followed by a Sindhi-Brahui mahfil-mushaira and a Brahui music night.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2014.