Mother language festival concludes Call for rewriting state policies on languages

Zubair Qureshi

The three-day Pakistan Mother Languages Literature Festival (MLLF) concluded in Islamabad on Sunday with a call on the government to rewrite state policies on languages and culture to promote the true spirit of a Federal State based on respect for diversity, inclusion and interdependence. For the last eight years, MLLF has become one of the important elements of Islamabad’s cultural and literary scene. The Indus Cultural Forum, a volunteer organization comprising literary and cultural enthusiasts arranged the festival in collaboration with Pakistan National Council of the Arts.

The festival was a joint effort of the National Heritage and Culture Division of Federal Government, Culture Departments of Governments of Sindh and Balochistan provinces, Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF), Forum for Language Initiatives, Idar Brae Taleem o Taraqi (IBT), Sindhi Language Authority, ECO Science Foundation, Society for Alternative Media and Research.

Speaking at the concluding ceremony, Indus Cultural Forum Chairperson Dr Manzoor Hussain Soomro said that the eight year journey of the festival on a voluntary basis and with limited resources is a testimony that with hard work, enthusiasm and dedication, we can do a lot to promote and protect Pakistan’s true diverse face. He called for greater collaboration between government and other institutions to sustain such initiatives. ICF General Secretary Ashfaq Hussain Chandio said that the festival is a means to bring people from all language communities together. He said the exchanges of ideas and creative works between writers, artists, poets and activists during these three days are further cultivated across the year and these three days become the source of years-long bonding and collaborations between them. Senior member of ICF, Munawar Hassan said the linguistic diversity is the greatest strength of Pakistan, which should be a cause to bring people together and not divide them.

Director General of PNCA, Muhammad Ayub Jamali in his remarks said that the institutions like PNCA were open to collaboration with civil society organizations. It is part of the mandate of the PNCA to promote linguistic, artistic and cultural diversity of Pakistan.

Earlier in the day, a session was dedicated to discussion on current education policy, in which speakers highlighted the weaknesses of the current education system which was divisive and colonial which did not promote critical thinking and learning among children. The speakers called for an education policy which centered around the cognitive abilities of children to learn effectively in their mother language at primary level and gradually move to other languages.