MINGORA / PESHAWAR: International Mother Language Day was commemorated in different parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) where speakers termed cultural plurality and multilingualism the binding force behind a cohesive Pukhtun society.
Seminars in the provincial capital and Swat Valley were attended by numerous linguists, writers and cultural activists who stressed the need for preservation and promotion of the vernacular.
Poha Foundation put together a symposium at Archives Hall, Peshawar on Saturday. Addressing the attendees, Poha Foundation Head Ayaz Mandokhel said language and culture were neglected throughout history. “Standardising education in regional languages is the only way forward,” he said, announcing the ‘Each one, teach one’ campaign that will work towards the promotion of Pashto.
“What will a child really retain when he hears Pashto at home, but reads and hears Urdu and English in school,” he questioned.
Professor Alamzaib argued the established education system is eroding our cultural bedrock.
Another seminar was organised by Malgari Likwalan in Swat. Renowned poets, scholars, writers, political activists and Pashto linguists from the valley and surrounding districts were invited to deconstruct the cultural significance of the vernacular.
Renowned Pashto litterateur Abasin Yousafzai said the international event is observed in memory of the Bengali students who demonstrated in favour of their mother tongue in present day Bangladesh in 1952. He said language plays a pivotal role in establishing societal standards and upholds both cultural and sentimental values. He said all mother languages are equally important and should be respected and promoted by the state regardless of its ideological tilt.
“The European, Chinese and Japanese civilizations advanced because they emphasised on educating their children in their own languages. Language gives man a sense of belonging and identity,” he added.
According to the UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, almost 70% of Pakistan’s endangered languages are native to K-P, Fata and G-B.
Suvatsu Arts and Culture Association Chairman Usman Ulas Yar said all regional languages should be given the status of national languages. “A Pashto department should be established at the University of Swat,” he urged the government.
Swat Hotels Association President Zahid Khan was of the view that the 5,000-year-old Pukhtun history should be included in the school curriculum and the vernacular should be given importance at par with Urdu and English.
Meanwhile, the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party organised a rally in Swabi district demanding the government to declare Pashto as the medium of instruction at all educational institutions of the province. Party activists gathered at Shagai Pull where local leaders addressed the gathering.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2015.