Tag Archives: Bangali

When the mountains were red

By Nadeem F. Paracha

Many Pakistani Pushtuns find themselves in a spot of bother when some political commentators and analysts define extremist organisations like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as an extension and expression of Pushtun nationalism.

Though religion has always played a central role in the make-up of Pushtun identity, Pushtun nationalism (especially in the 20th century) was always a more secular and left-leaning phenomenon. It still is.

This nationalism’s modern manifestation was founded on the thoughts and actions of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bacha Khan) and expressed through such left-wing parties as National Awami Party (NAP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and the Awami National Party (ANP).

However, for nearly three decades now, or ever since the beginning of the US/Pakistan/Saudi-backed ‘jihad’ against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Pushtun identity (at least in popular imagination) has been gradually mutating into becoming to mean something that is akin to being aggressive, fanatical and entirely religious.

Yet, till 2008 the county’s Pushtuns were enthusiastically voting for secular Pushtun nationalist parties like the ANP, and till even this day, there are a number of Pushtuns who are openly canvasing to eradicate not only religious violence and extremism from the Pushtun-dominated province of Khyber-Puskhtunkhwa (KPK), but also busy working towards debunking the belief that Pushtuns are by nature fanatical, driven by revenge and radically ‘Islamist’ in orientation.

Such Pushtuns point out the unique Pushtun-centric secularism of men like Bacha Khan and how left-wing parties like NAP were once KPK’s most popular exponents of electoral politics.

They blame the Pakistani ‘establishment’ for corrupting the notion of Pushtun nationalism by radicalising large portions of the Pushtuns through radical religious indoctrination and the Saudi ‘Petro Dollar.’

The idea was to neutralise Pushtun nationalism that had been the leading player in NAP, a party that also included Baloch and Sindhi nationalists, and was suspiciously eyed (by the establishment) to have had separatist and anti-Pakistan sentiments.

In the last decade or so – especially ever since extremist violence gripped the country, and with the KPK and the tribal areas that surround the province becoming the epicentre of this violence – various Pushtun parties, groups and individuals have been aggressively using political, social and cultural platforms to challenge the perception that religious extremism found in certain Pushtun-dominated militant outfits have anything to do with Pushtun culture or nationalism.

But so far it has been an uphill task and unfortunately the word Pushtun continues to trigger images of bushy, violent fanatics exploding themselves up in markets and mosques or beheading ‘infidels’ in the hills and mountains of KPK and the tribal areas.

Continue reading When the mountains were red

“INTERNATIONAL MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY AND LINGUISTIC ISSUE IN PAKISTAN”

By Dr. Ali Gul Metlo

The linguistic issue has been haunting Pakistan since its very beginning. The grave error was made by none other than the founder of the country Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah himself by declaring Urdu as the national language before a very charged Bengali audience in Dhaka. Ignoring all the native languages over an alien language to the newly formed realm of Pakistan. He and the rulers after him failed to comprehend the very strong Bengali sentiment and other ethnicities sentiments for their mother tongues and their cultural affinities. The edifice which was built on wrong foundations only made further divisions with the time. Instead of heeding to the demands for rightful status of native languages, the biased and visionless rulers of the newborn country were aiming to appease the Indians who were considering Urdu to be just an alias of their Hindi language with a different script. With this background a sane voice was made aloud.

In 1999 UNESCO declared February 21 as International Mother Language Day.

On 9th February 1951, Sir Sultan Agha Khan while addressing a session of Motamer al-Alam-al-Islamiyya in Karachi, said ‘’Your choice in Pakistan of Urdu will in no way ameliorate or help your relations with your neighbour, nor will it help the Muslim minorities there in any conceivable way. Howsoever you may add Arabic and Persian words to Urdu, there is no denying the fact that the syntax, the form, the fundamentals of the language are derived from Hindi and not from Arabic.’’

He further argued: ‘’Is it a natural and national language of the present population of Pakistan? Is it the language of Bengal where the majority of Muslims live? Is it what you hear in the streets of Dacca or Chittagong? Is it the language of the North West Frontier? Is it the language of Sindh? Is it the language of the Punjab? Certainly after the fall of the Moghal Empire, the Muslims and Hindus of certain areas found in it a common bond. But now today other forms of bridges must be found for mutual understanding.’’

Pointing to its history Sir Agha Khan said: ‘’Who were the creators of Urdu? What are the origins of Urdu? Where did it come from? The camp followers, the vast Hindi-speaking population attached to the Imperial Court who adapted, as they went along, more Arabic and Persian words into the syntax of their own language just as in later days the English words such as glass and cup became part of a new form of Urdu called Hindustani. Are you going to make the language of the Camp, or of the Court, the national language of your new-born realm?’’

The Agha Khan’s advice fell on deaf ears and visionless rulers who were unable to take its notice. However the language movement in Bengal grew steadily. Instead of correcting the policy the government outlawed the protests and resorted to violence in Bengal. It was 21 February, 1952 when the peaceful protesters in Dhaka University were fired upon resulting in numerous killings. The sacrifices made by Dhaka University students became an icon not only for the Bengali language but also for the disadvantaged languages of the whole world with the passage of time. The February 21, was ultimately proclaimed to be as the International Mother Language Day in November 1999 by UN.

The day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. Learning from the 21 February 1952 incident in Dhaka, the world made it a point to ameliorate the linguistic problems globally, whereas in Pakistan the situation went worse with the time and lead to disaster after disaster, the biggest one world witnessed was on 16 December 1971 in the breakup of the country.

In Sindh where Sindhi language was in very well advanced position as compared to other languages of West Pakistan suffered the most. Long before the partition, Sindhi was the official language and medium of education. Historically very rich and having literally dynamic traditions. These were the very reasons Sindhi was targeted ruthlessly as soon as Pakistan came to being. Its cities which were booming with cultural and economic activities were vacated through state sponsored violence and imposing black laws. City of Karachi was detached from Sindh. Capital of Sindh was shifted to Hyderabad.

Hundreds of Sindhi medium schools were closed, its use in offices and courts was banned, radio Pakistan stopped broadcasting Sindhi music and other programmes in Sindhi etc. Then came the one unit in 1955 when Sindhi was completely declared an outcaste. Sindhi literary activities and publications were declared anti state. Even postal letters bearing word Sindh were not delivered. Sindh striked back and reacted with extreme anger and full vigour in 1960s, by abruptly challenging the multiple socio-cultural, linguistic, political and economic blows and shocks of last two decades. Resulting in the birth and rapid rise of modern Sindhi patriotism.

The linguistic issue in Pakistan has been intricately knotted with the cultural, socio economic and democratic rights of the people. Languages bring people closer and bring about socio economic and political harmony. This natural cementing element was callously suppressed to serve and to further the vested interest of an insignificant alien minority. Without acknowledging linguistic rights economic, political and human rights are inconceivable. Under the cover of making Urdu as so called national language the jobs, politico-economic and cultural rights were usurped with a trickery and fraud by this well established and experienced clique. The struggle continued against these excesses by the deprived and excluded sections of masses. One Unit was undone. Bengalis achieved independence at the cost of massive human tragedy.

Continue reading “INTERNATIONAL MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY AND LINGUISTIC ISSUE IN PAKISTAN”

International Mother Language Day 21 February

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It seems the founding fathers of Pakistan never really imagined a place for a Bengali speaking, large Hindu minority province. This is because the TNT demanded a full divorce from all that was Hindu. Such was the force of the ideology, there was even an effort to make Bengali arabicized and de-sanskritized!!

Bengali muslims were at the forefront of the partition movement but giving up Bengali was a bridge too far for them.

In the course of the Pakistani government’s occupation of Bangladesh (is there a better word though there were benighted efforts to improve “East Pakistan” it seemed an occupation stroke colonisation) to “Arabify” & “DeSanskritise” Bangla or Bengali (I don’t know which is appropriate to refer to in the English language I prefer using Persian over Farsi, Gypsy over Romany, Eskimo over can’t remember what oh yes Inuit, etc etc) it inadvertently sparked off a global movement to preserve “mother languages” (the usage of the word mother language reminds of me of the elegant song ….

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SHAHEED ZULFIQAR ALI BHUTTO – SINDHI SPEECH

In 1969, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto addressed students at Liaquat Medical College, Jamshoro, Sindh. He was allowed to speak on the condition that he would not talk about politics. However, in his speech, he said being a political animal, he could not refrain from speaking on the subject. He said the following:

If Shah Lateef were alive today, he would be behind the bars. For all his poetry is based on democratic ideas.

One unit is an evil. Were Shah Bhitai alive today, he would oppose One Unit.

– A child’s education should be in his/her mother tongue. No doubt Urdu and Bengali are national languages, I feel and as a minister I tried that Sindhi children be educated in Sindh.

Via → Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups → Mohammad Ali Mahar → YouTube