Thursday May 30, 2024

‘Regional languages and Pakistan’

By islamabad
May 30, 2023

Pakistan is a country rich in diversity, with a population of over 220 million people and a range of different languages spoken across the country. Urdu, the national language of Pakistan, is widely spoken and understood, but it is just one of many languages that contribute to the country’s linguistic landscape.

Pakistan is home to a variety of regional languages, each with its own unique history, culture and dialects. These languages include Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pashto, Saraiki, Hindko and many others. In fact, Pakistan is considered to be one of the most linguistically diverse country in the world with over 70 different languages spoken throughout the country.

Regional languages play a vital role in the cultural and social fabric of Pakistan. They not only reflect the diversity of the people and their traditions, but also serve as a mean of communication and identity. For many Pakistanis, their regional language is an integral part of their identity and it connects them to their heritage and history. They have their own folk songs and folklore that represent their culture. They have their own regional dances. Some of these regional songs and dances are famous throughout the country for example regional dances like Bhangra, Khattak dance and regional songs of singers like Attaullah Esakhelvi, Abida Parveen, Abrar-ul-Haq, etc., are quite famous. This very thing represents the sense of unity within Pakistan as well.

Despite their cultural and social significance, regional languages in Pakistan have faced a range of challenges over the years. One of the biggest challenges is the dominance of Urdu and English in official communication, education and media. Urdu has been promoted as the national language of Pakistan since its inception and it is used as the medium of instruction in most schools and universities. Similarly, English is often seen as a symbol of status and privilege, and it is widely used in official communication, business and the media. The preference for Urdu and English has marginalised regional languages, making it difficult for people who speak these languages to access education, employment and other opportunities. In addition, the lack of support and recognition for regional languages has resulted in a decline in their use and a loss of cultural heritage. They feel disconnected with other people because of it.

Despite these challenges, there have been efforts to promote and preserve regional languages in Pakistan. Many organisations and individuals have advocated for the recognition and protection of these languages, and there have been initiatives to promote them in education, media and other spheres of public life. In 2018, the Sindh Assembly passed the Sindh Languages Bill, which recognises and promotes the use of Sindhi, Saraiki and other regional languages in the province. There have also been successful examples of promoting regional languages in Pakistan. Muhammad Ahmar Chaudhary, a scholar of IR department at NDU, Islamabad.