The demand for a separate homeland from India was the first step taken to distinguish the importance of religion as well as keeping alive language of Muslims that was Urdu. All the invaders whether they were Turks or Mughals implanted their mother tongue upon their subjects. When Pakistan came into being it also had two major languages as their official lingo Bengali in East Pakistan and Urdu West Pakistan. This major fiasco later proved to be the bone of contention between the two parts of Pakistan and resulted in separation of East Pakistan to emerge as Bangladesh after 1972. Language plays a key role in building a nation and it is a vital factor in keeping it united and proud.
At individual level it is quite visible to see the language playing and dividing people into sections and creating stereotypical images. A recent study conducted by an NGO (AGHS-legal Aid Cell) shows the decline of local language and sudden preference shift to English language thus dominating our national language Urdu. The language mostly spoken in Punjab is the Punjabi language but surprisingly the trend shows that Urdu has replaced the local lingo in the past years due to the various reasons provided for it but main reason for its decline is the social and cultural boycott by the people of it being thought of a “Paindo” status attached with it. Punjabi nowadays is considered a language only spoken by the servants or ill-literate people.
The English speaking class is considered superior and therefore commands more respect and power than any other language. It highlights and prioritize certain professions and a quota of seats are reserved for only English speaking people thus lowering the chances of any other person who has the same qualifications but the medium of communication is other than English. It not only classifies the qualification of a person but also conveniently restrict his chances of progress in general.
Language barrier also affects the psychological aspects of a person as he believes that speaking his mother tongue is shameful and not acceptable and hinders in his growth and utilizing his skills at his fullest capacity. It also marrs and scars his self esteem and lowers his self confidence. To rise above his status quo he needs to excel in the Beaurocrats language to adopt and portray their attitude, mannerism and life style.
As our history pertains that language has divided nations it is easily observed as Pakistan is further divided into four provinces where its people speak four other languages besides Urdu. Urdu as national language is taught in all the government education institutions. Education system in Pakistan is based at two levels Government based institutions and Private education systems that is based on mostly British and American education. At the government schools syllabus is in Urdu language making it easier for the masses to understand in all the provinces. The recent trend shows that since media has spread its wings English is fast becoming popular due to different social, economic and cultural reasons. In the last ten years or so English medium or private schools have sprung up all over the country like wild mushrooms. This means that people believe that getting educated in a foreign language gives them an advantage to better job opportunities and higher living standards as well as raising their chances of going abroad. It has also opened up society to explore new avenues and changing values and age old customs and beliefs.
The class difference is also visible at provincial level where the local languages are much more powerful than national language. In Sindh, Balochistan and Pakhtunkwah formerly known as NWFP uses the medium of education and communication is their respective Sindhi, Balochi and Pashtu languages. It is also encouraged and promoted from social and cultural level. Whereas only in Punjab province Punjabi is neither taught nor socially encouraged at all levels of society. Therefore their medium of communication is either Urdu or English.
The changing global conditions and means of communications have also touched Pakistan. The media has strongly played a part in expanding vision and views of its spectators. The masses have been exposed to an array of colors of different cultures and countries. It has brought them to the world of consumer goods and accessible marketing strategies. Taking them farther away from their language and introducing them to selfishness and greed. All this contributes to lack of unity and faith in people as individuals and as a whole society.
This acceptance of new ways and means to live their lives has drastic effect overall behavior and our cultural values. People who are not able to achieve, feels frustrated and it promotes violence and anarchy in the society. The issue of language is such that it has taken the whole nation at a point of disintegration and disinterest. Pakistan is facing the darkest hour of its history hour as its national language as well as our provincial and local languages are on the verge of extinction. People of Pakistan are caught up in their own web of identity crisis based on linguistic dismemberance.
By: Zainab Shahid