Original Articles

The real ‘National’ languages – by NAD Pukhtunyar

The Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, while observing the following:

1 Pakistan is a state comprising five different ethnicities/nations;

2 The national, economic and cultural rights of all the nationalities are invoilable;

3 All institutions of the state such as the Parliament, Executive, Law enforcement and other essential organs should have the due representation of all the nations/nationalities;

4 All the functioning of the state such as the foriegn and defense policy should have all the nations as equal stakeholders;

5 The natural and economic resources of any nationality are the sole ownership of the workers and the masses of that nationality;

and in accordance with the Internatioanl Mother Languages Day being celebrated on the 21st February, demands the following:

1 All the national languages, Pashto, Baluchi, Siraiki, Sindhi and Punjabi should be declared the National Languages.

2 These National Languages should also be the official langauges in their respective provincial units.

3 Urdu should be declared the language of Inter-Provincial communaication.

4 English should be declared the language of foriegn relations and state institutions.

5 All resources must be brought to use for the development of the National Languages (Pashto, Baluchi, Siraiki, Sindhi and Punjbai).

6 All primary education should be imparted in respective mother langauges.

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Nadir Ali Dirojay Pukhtunyar


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  • The Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party holds that a new social contract for the state based on the principles of National Autonomy, Popular and representative democracy and ethno-linguistic equality as the only solution to the crisis in Pakistan and the only way forward for Pakistan.

  • @Khawer Khan You are right, Khawer. There are more than 5 indeed.

    ‘Promotion of mother tongue will bring peace’
    By Our Staff Correspondent
    Monday, 22 Feb, 2010

    MULTAN, Feb 21: Speakers at a seminar on Sunday stressed the need for early education in mother tongue for development, peace and tolerance in society.

    The seminar was organised by the Seraiki Conference and SWAIL Organisation and hundreds of Seraiki writers, poets, intellectuals, teachers and students attended the seminar.

    The participants through resolutions demanded that primary education be imparted in mother tongue; mother tongue be mentioned in national identity cards; and Seraiki language lecturers be appointed in colleges.

    Seraiki intellectual Mushtaq Gaadi said that the dispensation of justice was impossible without using mother tongue as the decision of the British Indian government in 1837 to use vernacular language in the judicial system was based on this realisation.

    Professor Akram Mirani said that the replacement of Pashto with English and Urdu in the judicial system in Swat after 1969 played a major role in the alienation of people from the judicial system and propelled the demand for Sharia laws in the early 1990s.

    Ustad Mehmood Nizami said that depriving children from getting education in mother tongue would result in their economic exploitation.

    He said that the development of Pakistani languages would help in curbing religious extremism and militancy.

    Pakistan Seraiki Party President Taj Muhammad Langah, Shamim Arif Qureshi, Ashiq Buzdar, Safdar Klasra, Taj Gopang, Muzaffar Magsi, Hassan Raza Razzo Shah, Ahsan Wagha, Dr Alamdar Bokhari and Sabir Chishti also spoke. After the seminar, a walk was held wherein participants chanted slogans against “judicial and media trial’ of the elected Seraiki and Sindhi leaders.


  • Pakhtoonkhwa: Renaming of the NWFP

    The issue of renaming the North Western Frontier Province has sparked an acrimonious argument between the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz group). A resolution on renaming of the province as Pakhtoonkhwa was passed by majority in the NWFP assembly on Nov 13 1997. The resolution later became controversial due to a tough resistance by several political parties of the province against the backdrop of an aggressive campaign launched in its favor by the ANP and some other nationalist groups. By February 1998, the situation in the NWFP reached a point of acute polarization between the pro-Pakhtoonkhwa campaigners, particularly those from the ANP, and the opposing group led by veteran Muslim Leaguers.

    The ANP leader, Khan Abdul Wali Khan says that (a) changing the name of the province was no longer an issue as the matter was settled by the NWFP Assembly and (b) that they were discussing with Mian Nawaz Sharif whether Punjab should accept the NWFP resolution. Wali Khan argues that the question of Pakhtoonkhwa was not the question of change of name but of safeguarding the provincial autonomy. The ANP President, Senator Ajmal Khattak has clarified that his party wanted that except for foreign affairs, defense, currency and communications, which should remain with the center, all other subjects should be handed over to the provinces.

    The PML (N) parliamentary party of NWFP on Feb. 20, 1998 rejected the ANP demand for renaming the province as Pakhtoonkhwa, but empowered the Prime Minister to suggest any other “non-controversial” name. The PML (N) members stressed that Frontier (Sarhad) was a good name for the province. But if at all, renaming the province was needed, then it should be named as Khyber or Abasin. The NWFP Chief Minister, Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, said that the will of the people should be taken into account while resolving the Pakhtoonkhwa issue and referendum could be one way of ascertaining what the people wanted.

    However, the Awami National Party (ANP) leadership rejected the offer of holding referendum on the issue. The ANP also disapproved “Khyber” to be the new name of the province and it had told the government that it would get its demand accepted or would leave the coalition with the PML both in Center and the province.

    The fact of the matter is that there is an agreement between PML(N) and ANP that the name of NWFP be changed. The ANP gave full support to Mian Nawaz in his confrontation with the judiciary and supported each amendment without asking for a free and judicious debate. The ANP President, Senator Ajmal Khattak, on Feb. 11, 1998 reaffirmed that the Prime Minister had given an undertaking to the ANP that the NWFP would be renamed as Pakhtoonkhwa. He said it was because of this understanding that his party had supported Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister and Sardar Mehtab Abbasi as NWFP chief minister.

    As the acrimonious debate continued, the former chief justice of Pakistan Dr Nasim Hasan Shah called for the dissolution of the NWFP Assembly and fresh elections in the province on the issue of Pakhtoonkhwa. The press in the Punjab reminded the ANP Rehbar, Khan Abdul Wali Khan, the negative role played by his father, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, during the struggle of Pakistan. One of the newspapers from the Punjab suggested that the province should have all the say in the affairs of the state because it provides wheat to smaller provinces.

    On Feb. 15, 1998, speaking on the 10th death anniversary of his father, the Pakhtoon nationalist leader, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Rehbar of the Awami National Party, Khan Abdul Wali Khan, warned the government of grave consequences if Pakhtoons were not given their due rights.” If the demand for Pakhtoonkhwa was not met it would amount to curbing provincial autonomy, on which there could be no compromise.”

    “The provincial assembly has given its decision on renaming the NWFP by adopting a resolution in this regard and as such the province has been renamed as Pakhtoonkhwa. Now it is a matter of provincial autonomy and non-acceptance of the NWFP Assembly’s resolution by the center would mean that Islamabad has no respect for the demand voiced by the elected representatives of a province.

    “The Prime Minister was trying to re-create One-Unit to establish the supremacy of a specific larger province. However, the ANP would be the first one to resist such a move as we did in the past when Z.A. Bhutto was the Prime Minister. If they try to re-impose One-Unit, then we will say goodbye to them. We have good wishes for them; let them live there and we [Pakhtoons] here”.

    Wali Khan also warned prime minister Nawaz Sharif that his party would not bow down before the government over the question of Pakhtoons’ rights and reminded him the his party’s 15 members had resigned from the provincial assembly in protest when the prime minister [former] Bhutto dislodged the Balochistan government. “The ANP which has a strength of over 30 members in the provincial assembly would not hesitate to do so again if the center tried to curb provincial autonomy”, he remarked.

    He argued that the ANP’s stand over Pakhtoonkhawa was not just a matter of renaming the province rather it was a struggle for the rights of Pakhtoons and the well being of their province. ” Our forests, waters and all other provincial resources are in the control of other people.”

    About the Afghan refugees settled in the NWFP, he said they were not refugees, they were living in their own area because they were Pakhtoons. “The British rulers drew Durand Line just to divide the Pakhtoon nation, it has no significance at all because the Pakhtoons are united. We did not recognize the Pakhtoons’ division neither at that time, nor do we accept it at present. The Pakhtoons living in Pakistan and Afghanistan are the one and same nation, they cannot be divided”.

    On February 25, 1998, the talks between the ANP and the federal government, on renaming the province as Pakhtoonkhwa, failed that led to the ending of a year-old ANP-PML(N)alliance.

    According to Dr. Ahmad Hassan Dani, Northwest of the British has been a changing phenomenon in history. In their westward advance over the decline of the Mughal Empire the British first created the North West Province, which is now called Uttar Pradesh in India, and much later in 1901 they agreed to the formation of the present North West Frontier Province and separated it from the province of Punjab. To NWFP was added the Hazara division for administrative purposes, as Gulab Singh to whom Kashmir was sold, could not pay the full amount and hence Hazara was taken away and added to this newly created province. The Mughals had formed Suba-i-Lahore, Suba-i-Multan, to which Sindh was attached, and Suba-i-Kabul, to which was attached more or less the present NWFP. Later the Mughals conquered Kashmir and extended their sovereignty over Baltistan and Ladakh.

    Lord Curzon, in his Forward Policy, distinguished between the settled districts of NWFP and the newly established tribal agencies and fixed the border between British India and Afghanistan at the western end of the Khyber Pass for the first time in history and thus made a political division of the Pakhtoon tribes.

    To the original British NWF Province the government of Pakistan, in 1970-71, after the abolition of the states, added Swat, Dir and Chitral as new districts and also created the district of Kohistan, which was practically no-man’s land in the British period. Just before partition of the sub-continent, the idea of Pakhtoonistan was floated by Congress for reasons not difficult to understand, but it fizzled out in the referendum as the people voted to join Pakistan.

    “As far as the British Indian Empire was concerned, the new colonial name of the province was fully justified as this province lay to the north-west frontier of the Empire but in the present geographical context of Pakistan it is neither the only region in the north-west nor the only part lying in the frontier of the state,” argues, Dr. Dani.

    No doubt, ‘NWFP’ is no name for a province. This name is a legacy from our colonial past. We must be realistic in our approach and change the name of this province. A number of names have been suggested as a substitute for the NWFP. These include:

    ABASIN: Abasin is one of the historical names of the river Indus that flows through the province.

    GANDHARA: This is the historic name of this region. It is the Aryans who first started the geographic name of Gandhara in about the middle of the second millennium BC that extended on either side of the river Indus, with two capitals, Pushkalavati (modern Charsadda) on the west and Taxila on the east. Later the western capital was transferred to Peshawar (old Purushapura). The geographical name Gandhara continued until AD10 century, i.e. for nearly twenty-five hundred years, when after the overthrow of the Hindu Shahi dynasty by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, it was incorporated into his Ghazni Empire and Gandhara was forgotten into the limbo of history.

    KHYBER: After the name of the historical Khyber Pass.

    PAKHTOONKHWA: It literally means the side where the Pakhtoons live. Pakhtoonkhwa has been used in Pushto literature to identify the region.

    For many people the Pakhtoonkhwa issue is a regional matter, having no major consequences on the country’s politics but political analysts believe that, if not handled with care, the Pakhtoonkhwa issue has the potential to turn into a major catastrophe for the country. The net result of the ruling elite being led by the bureaucracy is unending polarization between the center and regional nationalism. It is the rock on which the ship of state foundered in 1971. But the center-province bitterness and antagonism have not changed since then. The unchanging ruling elite — in terms of social and economic provenance of a vast majority of the bureaucrats, generals and deputies of both the major parties — refuse to be accommodative and flexible to the demands of regional nationalists in Balochistan, Sindh and even the NWFP. (Pushtoon nationalism has become an extremely complex issue with an international dimension.) The all-powerful center looks upon regional identities with suspicion and tends to react with vehe mence. The only means of dealing with them is through infiltration, subversion and division with the help of intelligence agencies. This method works for a time, as it seems to have done in Sindh, Balochistan or even in Karachi. But that resolves no problem. It merely buys time.


    Colonial NWFP or Pakistani Pakhtoonkhwa? By Prof. Em. Dr Ahmad Hasan Dani [Frontier Post, Peshawar – 15-2-1998]

    New hopes, old fears by M.B.Naqvi – Dawn 12.1.1997

    Excerpts from ISLAMIC PAKISTAN: ILLUSIONS & REALITY A comprehensive and detailed political history of Pakistan by Abdus Sattar Ghazali

  • Education in mother tongue —Dr Manzur Ejaz

    Research has shown that the students proficient in their mother tongue are better equipped to learn other languages. Furthermore, it is apparent that the countries that used mother tongues as medium of education were better in augmenting and creating knowledge

    It was the International Mother Tongue Day three days ago (February 21). I want my fellow Punjabis to be tolerant of other religions/sects and look forward. I want them to be conscientious citizens who pay their dues to society and help people who are not very fortunate in their lives. How can I help in inculcating such a mindset in them? In other words, given the historical limitations, what goes into grooming the collective mindset that I desire?

    Probably everyone would agree that besides real life experience, the mind is affected by what we observe, hear or read. As formal education starts quite early in life, the written word has assumed unprecedented importance. Therefore, the intolerant, obsessive mindset that most Punjabis or Pakistanis have assumed has to be traced back, partially, to our educational system and medium of education. There is an obvious correlation between the spread of education and the rise of religious extremism because the rural and formally less educated communities were much more tolerant than the new urban or semi-urban population that has been exposed to our educational system.

    Let us take tolerance of others as a basic human value that we expect from an enlightened/educated individual. If there is no formal educational system, the individuals are left to their own devices to figure out their relationship with people who are different from them in matters of faith or traditions. Probably, the individuals will rely on the received word from indigenous sources, i.e. literature, the arts, traditions, etc.

    In Punjab’s case, this meant reading — there were millions of people who could read Punjabi only — or listening to Punjabi classics. Some of these writings had religious undertones (Sufism) while others were just romantic legends though the traditional people interpreted them as symbolic expressions of spiritualism. These indigenous sources, preaching humanistic values, were helpful in creating a tolerant mindset. Taking it out of the educational system and replacing it with Urdu, Persian or English literature was alienating, and left the students with no real human values: few could really grasp the material and even they could not feel the spirit of foreign literature.

    As another example, let us see what kind of a mindset can accept a secular state. It means that the people should understand that they are different from each other and no group, majority or minority, has the right to impose its own preferences on others. It also means that the relationship with the Supreme Being should be taken as an individual act rather than a group contract.

    Mullah Shahi believes they have a unique contract with God and therefore it is their right to impose their group preferences on others. On the contrary, most Sufi literature in Punjabi (and in other languages) preaches an individual relationship with the Supreme Being and trashes the mullah for imposing group preferences. They kept their doors open to people of other religions as well as to converted Muslims from the lower castes — that constituted the majority of Muslims in India — who were treated like non-Muslim untouchables. By inculcating an individual relationship with the Supreme Being, Sufi thought does not impinge on the politics of the state. The majority of the population in many secular states like the US is very religious minded, but faith is considered an individual matter. Therefore, the Sufis were ahead of their time in preaching these notions.

    Religious formations and other makers of the Pakistan ideology were quite adamant about keeping the people away from indigenous sources by imposing foreign languages as mediums of education. They were conscious about the secular content of the Sufi discourse. Therefore, if we want to create an enlightened mindset, we have to change course and adopt mother tongues as mediums of education so that the coming generations are groomed through humanistic literature.

    Furthermore, the historical experience shows that mass literacy and, hence, enlightenment cannot be achieved unless the mother tongue is used as a medium of education, besides other factors. As a medium of education, the mother tongue affects the quantitative as well as qualitative outcomes. Mr Majid Sheikh has proved through historical records that at the time of British annexation, the literacy rate in Lahore and its neighbourhood was about 80 percent, which is down to single digits now.

    The literacy rate plunged because the medium of education was changed from the mother tongue to Urdu and English. Some English civil servants had foretold the consequences of not making the mother tongue the medium of education. They argued that when Latin was the medium of education in England, education was limited to narrow circles. However, when French was adopted as a medium of education, the literacy rate expanded a bit, but mass education was made possible only when the Celtic dialect, adopted as Standard English, was made the medium of education.

    The qualitative impact of teaching in the mother tongue is also immense. To start with, research has shown that the students proficient in their mother tongue are better equipped to learn other languages. Furthermore, it is apparent that the countries that used mother tongues as medium of education were better in augmenting and creating knowledge. East Asian countries like China, Japan, Korea and parts of India, where mother tongues have played a serious role, are much better off than North India (including Pakistan).

    Of course this is only one precondition for the creation of a forward looking society. There are several other conditions that have to be met to achieve this goal, but they are not within the scope of this short column.

    The writer can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com