Speakers at a conference called for respect and promotion of all mother tongues spoken in the country and urged women to spend maximum possible time with their children to ensure that they speak their mother language proficiently and fluently.

The two-day national conference title ‘The Role of Mother Language in 21st Century’ was held in Dr Baloch Hall of the Sindhi Language Authority (SLA) to mark the International Mother Language Day on Thursday.

Ahmed Salim, a Punjabi writer and Sustainable Development Policy Institute senior research adviser on education and religious diversity, said Punjabi and Urdu were taught in school in undivided India and after 1947 when Pakistan came into being. However later only Urdu was taught in schools as the first prime minister of the country, Liaquat Ali Khan, wanted to promote Urdu and the Punjabi leadership longed to please the PM.

“Punjabi is not an independent and liberated language; how can Punjab liberate other languages?” he said. He asked for presenting a strong and unanimous resolution for protection and promotion of all mother languages. He appreciated contribution of Sindhi’s eminent writer and poet Shaikh Ayaz.

While giving a brief introduction of all speakers, their contribution towards their respective languages, SLA secretary Shabnum Gul urged mothers that they should work harder, teach and train their children in their respective mother languages as a mother could play an important role in this respect.

“Youths are heirs of the language and we have good hope for this generation in terms of promotion of mother language,” she said.

Intellectual Jami Chandio started with a slogan of ‘Jeay Sindh’ and ‘Jeay Sindhi Language’ and said that language was a political, social and philosophical issue instead of an ethic one.

He said language had a vision, perception, reason and nobody could dream of other language and no one could think in other language except for in their own mother tongue.

He stressed need for respecting and safeguarding all languages. He said people must focus on some aspects to promote the mother language, including important role of society, research and others. He said that it was language which connected people to each other.

“Urdu can be a lingua franca and English can be an official language, but not national one,” he said, adding that he did not hate Urdu as Sachal Sarmast, Mirza Kaleech Baig, Shaikh Ayaz and other Sindhi writers and poets produced a lot of literary work in Urdu.

Seraiki scholar Mazhar Arif recited Seraiki’s beautiful couplets and received loud applause while highlighting importance of mother languages. He said that all people belonging to all languages made all-out efforts and launched a movement against One Unit and were ultimately successful.

While presiding over the proceedings of the moot, Prof Dr Qazi Khadim said that if Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai did not write Sindhi poetry, Sindhi language could not be promoted to a great extent.

“Language is an emotional issue and attachment and it is global as well. We are stronger because of efforts against One Unit,” he said.

He said that media must play a positive role in promoting language while there was a mess in language due to media and globalisation.

Writer Madad Ali Sindhi read out the message of Sindh Education Minister Syed Sardar Shah and said that Indus script must be worked on and that was why the Sindh government set up Majid Bhurgari Language Engi­nee­ring Institute; it would produce language engineers. They would work to promote language.

Dr Mithal Waqasi, Dr Sadia Kamal, Niaz Nadeem and other writers also spoke.

Seven books launched at the event were Boli jo bachao ain unjo drust istemal, Sindhu likhat memorandum, Ilm-ul-lisaan, Khudawadi rasm-ul-khat, Sindhi boli jo laari lehjo, Sindhi boli ji iqtasadiyati ahmiyat and Sindhi lughat.

Originally published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2019