Eight national languages?
At the Shura’s meeting it was pointed out that during last 65 years beginning with May 1948, Quaid-e-Azam’s declaration that Urdu only shall be Pakistan’s National Language , three Constitutions of Pakistan drafted by different Constituent Assemblies, in 1956, 1962 and 1973 adopted with complete consensus that Urdu will be Pakistan’s National Language. Under Art 28 of the Constitution Local languages have been protected that any Section of citizens who have a distinct language , script or culture have the right to preserve and promote the same and establish institutions for this purpose. Local languages have there own sphere and do not replace National language.
This provision of making 8 national languages was looked upon as an attempt to destroy national unity. and National Assembly be requested to drop this proposal since it could destroy the national unity by removing the position of Urdu as the “lingua franka” of the country.
Speaking on the occasion I told the meeting that UN describes Urdu/Hindi as the third largest tongue in the world being mother tongue of three hundred million people in the Subcontinent. I said it was Gandhiji’s description of Urdu as “Hindustani tatha Hindi” which deepened the cleavage between Hindus and Muslims. A language becomes lingua franka like an international currency. It becomes internationally acceptable whether you like it or not, because of its acceptability, for example the dollar. The same is with a language. Dollar is international currency because of its universal acceptability So, between multilingual in Pakistan/subcontinent only use of Urdu becomes necessary. I may narrate some stories of my own experience from Nagaland to Egypt to illustrate the point.
In many Buddhist scripture, in Bible and the Holy Quran anecdotes are narrated to bring home the morale of the story. I would like to recall that in 1945, when the Armies were waiting to be demobed, I went to a jungle deep in Assam on Nagaland.. I stayed with a cousin of mine who gave me a rifle and sent me to the Lamding jungle, for a tiger shoot, The forests were so thick that the grass was taller than me, and during the days time there was practically no sunlight, it was dark. My local guide in the jungle was a from a Mikir tribe. Women in his village were topless and Mikir was semi naked, Nagas once a while passed by, topless women naked men, We were walking on a kind of train in the jungle, It was in a kind of Urdu we were conversing. “Is jomgle mein bag ata hai fajar ke vaqt , jol peney. Yeh dekho baga key paon key nishan”. The means of communication still in the subcontinent remains whatever name you give to Urdu This makes me recall that a 200 years old Urdu classic “Umrao Jan Ada” was produced by Bollywood. The Indian Film Censor Board Certificate described the language of the film “Hindi” which was very stylish Urdu with not a word of Hindi !! Once during my Cairo ambassadorship , the Egyptian Foreign Ministry gave a farewell lunch to the departing Nepalese Ambassador invited, Ashok Sen Chib Indian Ambassador and Ambassadors of Afghanistan, Bangla Desh , Sri Lanka, and Burma . I started speaking to Chib in Urdu . Other joined us , even the Burmese. Egyptian Deputy C P asked me “what language you were speaking in” I replied “Do not ask me to name it. Chhib will call it Hindi and what not “
Knowing Urdu is essential in SAARC region, what to say of Pakistan Like use of dollar in foreign countries. No amendment would be able to stop common men speaking it . Incidentally Urdu was born in Punjab , even before the partition the largest number of newspaper and books in Urdu were published in Lahore if not in the Punjab. In five centuries Urdu became one of the richest languages in the subcontinent . Largest number of standard works have been published in Urdu.. Most prestigious religious schools were in Deoband and Nadwa in Northern India. Once while talking to Maulana Bhashani that great Bangla leader in Tokyo in 1965 when I was D C M, I marveled at Bhashani’s Urdu He said he had been a student at Deoband, so was Mufti Mahmoud father of M Fazlur Rehman. Great Muslim Universities, like Aligarh, Jamia Usmania taught many subject in Urdu, In Karachi and Islamabad now there are Urdu Universities teaching modern subjects in Urdu. No other language can or is doing such teaching of science and technology in local “languages” Usmania University translated all English science and technology from 30s till the fall of Hyderabad in 1948,Urdu’s richness is unmatched by any language in the subcontinent.
But despite the importance of English language, in modern age for latest knowledge in technology English is not enough. Will one teach Nuclear technology in Balti. Even such evolved language as Urdu cannot do it well. Those of us who did their Ph D abroad know that we were not accepted for Ph D unless we knew two foreign languages. In Science knowledge of Russian , German, French any two of them was considered necessary because latest research is in those languages In my case I had studied Arabic up to under graduate certificate and passed interpretation ship examinations in French. In Pakistan Ph D is like entering a High School course.
This Amendment if approved means that all official noting, decisions will be in local languages, that say Baltistan will write in Balti to Punjab and all education will also be in local language in schools and universities, members of parliament will speak in their own language it will be translated into seven languages to be understood by all other members of the National Assembly. I recall that such strange ideas were implemented but there used to be “dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union and how this experiment failed is well known.
I seems that the Party in power wants to change the nature of Pakistan’s state and the one nation Pakistan is to be modeled after Switerzaland’s Canton system where the Cantons are the real units and Switzerland is a sum total of all Cantons . The intention may be to make Pakistan a combination of many linguistic nationality provinces like it was in the late Yugoslavia in which a very weak Federation or confederation existed. The idea of creating many provinces is a manifestation of an attempt to create a decentralized Yugoslavia or Switzerland like country. If so the idea of 8 National Languages fits in it well , Pakistan nationality replaced by eighth nationalities.