Naseer Memon | February 06, 2016 | Published in The News.
ISLAMABAD: As many as 27 of the 70 languages spoken in Pakistan have been declared ‘endangered’, as the speakers of such languages have started relying more on communicational languages. Indus Cultural Forum coordinator Niaz Nadeem emphasised, at a press conference on Friday that such languages must be protected because they are part of Pakistan’s heritage. Mr Nadeem, speaking at Lok Virsa, said the Pakistan Mother Language Literature Festival would be held on February 20 and 21, to coincide with Mother Tongue Day on February 21. He said over 150 writers and poets would participate in the festival, which will feature cultural activities in 15 to 20 languages. “There will be discussions on languages, literature and culture, book launches, mother language symposiums, music events, audio-visual screenings and performances. Mother language book stalls, food courts, cultural exhibitions and a mobile library will also be there,” he said. However, Mr Nadeem added that most of the proceedings on local languages will be held in Urdu, to ensure that everyone is able to understand the messages being put forth.
Lok Virsa executive director Dr Fouzia Saeed said, while a large number of people speak Urdu in Pakistan, both Urdu and English are communicational languages. “Our national heritage is in mother tongue. If we fail to protect the languages spoken in Pakistan, our heritage will evaporate along with the languages,” she said. “People should have knowledge about mother languages. A person can learn seven to eight languages easily. So many languages should be taught to people, and they should speak many languages.”
Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) chief executive Naseer Memon said languages are the colours of Pakistan, and it was necessary to protect those colours. “Now it has been admitted at the international level that cultural diversity is the strength of nations. We can resist against terrorism and extremism by promoting culture. We have very rich literature, and we have to give a message that all the languages of Pakistan are Pakistani languages,” he said.
Matloob Hussain, a representative of the Pakistan Reading Project, said the organisation will also be participating in the event. Mr Hussain told Dawn that children should be interested in reading and writing, and such an event could heighten their interest in such activities. Mazhar Arif, who will manage events on the Saraiki dialect, said the idea behind the festival is to gather people from across the country, in order to strengthen the federation. Fatima Atif, a member of the Hazara community, said cultural promotion programmes have long lasting effects. She hoped that people from various religions and linguistic backgrounds would gather at the festival, allowing tolerance to increase between them and their communities.