Views on the issue of national language in Pakistan

Contributed by various authors via e-mail/forums


 

 

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Persian was the official language of Pakistan region for many centuries... during pre-British Muslim and non-Muslim periods! Urdu/Hindi language belonging to only Gangetic valley was first promoted and developed by the British colonialists.

What made the British choose Urdu rather than Persian is revealed by the available documents of that period. For instance, the Commissioner and Superintendent of the cis-Sutlej states wrote to the Secretary, Punjab Government, on 17 June 1862:

"In 1853 when I first took charge of the Commissionership the language of the Courts was Persian; and I altered it to Oordoo for two reasons. Firstly the extreme slipperiness of Persian, and extreme Provision of Oordoo as a Judicial language. 2ndly the Political advantage of hastening the amalgamation of our provinces."

The idea that the peoples of Pakistan region should look towards India, where Urdu was predominant, and not towards Afghanistan/Iran/Central Asia, certainly influenced the choice of the vernacular in this region.

This is further supported by the following letter of 22 July 1862 from the Director of Public Instruction to the Secretary of the Punjab Government:

"Persian may be considered the vernacular of the educated classes rather than Urdoo, .... I would recommend that Urdoo be continued as the Court Vernacular. On the annexation of the Punjab political motives, I dare say, had a great share in giving the superiority to Urdoo over Persian, which was commonly used in the Courts, and the desirability of making the union of the wild tribes with the adjoining population in our territories more complete, and their intercourse more convenient, by the use of a common tongue, is obviously very desirable. All our Education efforts tend to this object among others and they will be greatly aided by the currency of Urdoo, in all our Courts, as the standard language."

Reference: See the letters between British officers in the book, Development of Urdu as Official language in the Punjab (1849-1974), Nazir A. Chaudhry (Lahore: Government of the Punjab, 1977).

It is a fact that the British imperialists replaced Persian with Urdu in order to destroy Pakistan's close cultural/political links with its Persian-speaking Muslim neighbors on its west/north, and to engineer/promote their newly invented "Indian" colonial identity with Urdu/Hindi-speaking Gangetic (eastern/Hindu) region as its base. So let us undo what the British colonialists had started.. by rejecting this bitter and brief British legacy of Urdu/Indian language/cultural imposition.... by "de-Indianizing" ourselves and reverting back to our natural independent/distinct status.

 

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Why is Dari/Farsi a better choice than Urdu for Pakistan's national language?

1. Urdu has no historical basis:

Urdu has no historical basis in Pakistan region before the advent of British colonialists (the British further developed Urdu and promoted it) and was then imposed as Pakistan's national language in 1947 by the Muhajir-dominated Pakistani media/govt. On the other hand, Farsi/Dari has a solid historical basis in Pakistan region. It was the official language through out Muslim and non-Muslim rule before the advent of British colonialists... whether locally independent or part of neighboring empires.

2. Urdu represents an ethnic minority's domination:

Urdu is the mother-tongue of only Muhajirs in Pakistan who represent less than 7% of Pakistanis. On the other hand, Dari/Farsi is not the mother-tongue of any single ethnic group. It is spoken by Hazaras, Tajiks, Persians, Uzbeks, Baluchs, Pashtuns, Kurds, etc. in the Afghanistan-Iran-CASia region.

3. Urdu is a foreign language:

Urdu is only native to a part of north India (i.e. Delhi, UP, MP, Bihar, etc regions) and is a foreign language in Pakistan. On the other hand, Dari/Farsi was spoken by the ancestors of Pakistanis (pre-British era).

4. Urdu is responsible for Indian cultural invasion:

Urdu and Hindi are the same language (except for the script and some loan-words). This enables the mighty Indian media outlets such as TV, films, news, music to strongly influence Pakistanis. Pakistanis are being "Indianized" while their distinct identities are being destroyed. On the other hand, Dari/Farsi media is weak and the language itself does not belong to any single country. This language equally belongs to Pakistan just like it was in the pre-British era.

5. Urdu causes an identity crises:

Since Urdu and Hindi are the same language (except for the script and some loan-words), people falsely perceive Indians and Pakistanis to be the same people. On the other hand, Dari/Farsi ensures each country's identity to be distinct. An Afghan is not perceived as an Iranian, and vice versa.

6. Urdu contradicts the creation of Pakistan:

Since Pakistan's creation was meant to separate from British-created Hindu India. Urdu being an Indian language and similar to Hindi is forcefully making Pakistan closer to Hindu India and undoing partition. On the other hand, Dari/Farsi will ensure Pakistan becomes more different from India and make it closer to its western neighbor with whom it has close historical, racial, cultural and religious ties.

7. Urdu is disintegrating Pakistan:

Urdu imposition was mostly responsible for the loss of East Pakistan. And most Sindhis, Pashtuns, Baluchs, etc. strongly resent Urdu imposition. On the other hand, Dari/Farsi is not resented by any ethnic group of Pakistan because it does not belong to any ethnic group and has a solid historical basis in Pakistan.

8. Urdu is the language of the Hindus:

Urdu/Hindi is the mother-tongue of almost 400 million Hindus in India and only 10 million Muslims in Pakistan. On the other hand, Dari/Farsi is only spoken by Muslims.

9. Urdu lacks sophistication:

Most of Urdu literature is filled with wine drunken love affairs when the Muslim rule was steadily declining. It lacks science and modernity, even today. On the other hand, Dari/Farsi has plenty of books in various sciences and arts, was always the language of the sophisticated, and today has no problem adopting modernity.

10. Urdu is a legacy of British colonialism:

Urdu/Hindi was never the official language during Muslim rule (it was always Dari/Farsi/Persian), and was first promoted and further developed by the British colonialists (Hindustani/Khariboli language was "communalized" at Fort Williams College giving birth to Urdu and Hindi). The British rejected Persian language in the region to de-link any Muslim connections with its western neighbors, and promoted Urdu/Hindi to engineer their newly created "Indian" colonial identity with Ganges region as its center.

11. Urdu is a slave language:

Urdu/Hindi has always been a slave language. For example, its original/native speakers (north Indian Hindus) adopted much of Persian words/script when ruled by the Persian-speaking Muslims, and then adopted much of English words when ruled by the British (which continues today with Anglo-American global influence). On the other hand, Persian language was the language of Southwest/Central/South Asian Muslims who proudly ruled the whole region for many centuries. Today the remnants of Persian speakers are proof that Persian language does not bow down to foreign influence/occupation, and proudly utilizes its own words.

 

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I prefer Arabic over Urdu as Pakistan's national language when choosing between the two. However, the third and better option  is definitely Dari/Farsi. Let's analyze a bit:

Arabic

1. Historically, Arabic was used as an official language in Pakistan region (excluding the north) only during the brief  period of Arab rule (711-855/1010 AD). So, Arabic language has very little historical basis in Pakistan.

2. Linguistically, Arabic is a Semitic language unrelated to the Indo-Iranian languages of Pakistan. Thus, Arabic language is  an alien language to Pakistan's native languages (minus the loan-words and script).

3. Geographically, the Arab world is detached from Pakistan, with no land linking them. Therefore, an Arabized Pakistan will  be an isolated Arabic island in the middle of an Indo-Iranian regional bloc.

4. Arab extremists and their hatemongering ideologies (Wahabism/etc.) have caused instability in Pakistan with sectarian  violence. Arabic as Pakistan's national language will further welcome those destructive elements and make the country  unstable.

5. Arabic might be the language in which Quran was originally written, but the Quran is and can always be translated. Just  because the Bible (New Gospel) might have been originally written in Aramaic language, it does not mean that all Christian  countries should adopt Aramaic as their national language!

6. Arabic language is only the mother-tongue of ethnic Arabs, and except for the Quranic usage/purposes it is not used/spoken  by non-Arabs.

Dari/Farsi

1. Historically, Dari/Farsi was used in Pakistan region through out most of its pre-British history. The Muslim rulers such  as Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Slave dynasty, Khiljis, Tughlaqs, Syeds, Lodhis, Suris, Mughals, and Abdali exclusively used  Farsi/Dari as its official language through out their empires/kingdoms. Even the local kingdoms such as those of Ranjit  Singh, the Talpurs, Khanate of Kalat, etc. used Farsi/Dari as its official language. And before the advent of Islam, various  Iranian languages (derived or related to Dari/Farsi) were used in Pakistan region such as Vedic, Old Persian, Pahlvi, Old  Saka, Bactrian, and Tocharian during RigVedic Aryan, Achaemenian, Scythian, Parthian, Greco-Bactrian, Kushan, and Hephthalite  periods. So, Dari/Farsi has a solid historical basis in the region of Pakistan.

2. Linguistically, Dari/Farsi is an Indo-Iranian language related to the Indo-Iranian languages of Pakistan. Thus, Dari/Farsi  language is not an alien language to Pakistan's native languages and belong to the same family of languages (plus the  loan-words and script).

3. Geographically, the Dari/Farsi-speaking world (Iran, Afghanistan, and parts of Central Asia) are Pakistan's western and  northern neighbors. Therefore, a Dari/Farsi-speaking Pakistan will attach Pakistan to the Central Asian/Pax Iranica regional  bloc.

4. With Farsi/Dari as Pakistan's national language, it will counter religious extremism in the region since Sunni extremism  from Pakistan would be checked by Shia Iran and Shia extremism from Iran would be checked by Sunni Pakistan.

5. Dari/Farsi is a well developed and sophisticated language. It has been used through out its history for science, medicine,  literature, administration, arts, etc. When Arabs invaded the great Persian empire they adopted much of its civilization and  integrated it within Arab/Islamic culture. Dari/Farsi film industry is world renowned for its classical/artistic and  decent/mature movies.

6. Dari/Farsi language is not the mother-tongue of any single ethnic group. It is spoken by Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmens, Azeris,  Persians, Kurds, Baluchs, Pashtuns, Hazaras, etc. in Iran-Afghanistan-CAsia region.



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The bollywood movies, cable channels like Star and Zee are all in Urdu but the indians call it Hindi.

The Indians have been trying to influence our culture from the very beginning. That is the reason why you see pure Urdu  movies in the 1970s and 1980s called Hindi by Indians. By doing that, they were actually invading our cultural and linguistic  space. I am not impressed by Indian moves and especially the "dramas" on zee and star networks, but the ladies in Pakistan  are glued to the television and cant afford to miss even a single episode of these phony dramas.

Also, you might have noticed that the government imposed ban on these TV channels a few years ago because of the propaganda  news and influence on the Pakistani culture. The other reason given by our information minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad was to  allow the Pakistani media and channels to grow so that there is no competition from across the border.

All these developments indicate that cultural invasion is going on and this is done in a systematic manner. We should not lose  focus from the fact that recently the channels and some movies have started using a lot of strange hindi words in the  scripts. This is because first they captured the market and now they are preaching their culture and language to that  particular focused group called Pakistan.

I don't think that Pakistanis have any thing against Urdu or Mohajirs. But we should try to understand that battle of cultures  is going on and if we don't ponder and think about it and pretend that nothing is going on, then we will be big losers.

In today's world, not too many wars are fought with weapons. With improved technologies, wars of media/culture are being  aggressively waged. If Indian cultural invasion of Pakistan continues to "Indianize" the Pakistanis.. then that would mean  that Indians have conquered us and won the war.. without a single bullet!

Let us make the radical change of our national language from Urdu to Dari/Persian... to make our nation strong ensuring its  long-term survival.
 


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Regarding Urdu-Hindi controversy, here is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Rahman's book, titled "Language and Politics in  Pakistan".

“M K Gandhis efforts to conciliate both Hindus and Muslims through linguistic compromise can thus be understood in the  context of increasing tendencies towards separatism. Gandhi defined Hindustani as “that language which is generally spoken by  Hindus and Musalmans of the North, whether in Devanagri or Urdu”

Is not it glaringly clear from the above excerpt that if there was any difference in Urdu and Hindi, that was of script as  indicated by the words “Devanagri” and “Urdu”? Moreover, why on earth would Gandi give the same name, “Hindustani”, to Urdu  and Hindi if they in fact were different?

The only conclusion from this is, the difference was very artificial i.e. in script only. Colloquially, there was no such  distinction as Urdu or Hindi. And at literary level, Hindi-Hindustani was identified with Devanagri script and  Urdu-Hindustani with Quranic script as evidenced by the following excerpt from Tariq Rahman Book:

“The worst fear of the Muslims came true, when on Gandhis insistence, the Baharatiya Sahitya Parishad changed the term  Hindustani to Hindi-Hindustani in its session of 24 April 1936. Abdul Haq, head of Anjuman-e-Tarraqqi-e-Urdu, the foremost  organization for the development of Urdu, opposed this change and some prominent Muslims wrote letters to Gandhi protesting  against it.”

This shows there was some sort of agreement among Muslims and Hindus that the common language, which both Muslims and Hindu  spoke and which was written by Muslims in Perso-Arabic script and Hindus in Devanagri script, would be called “Hindustani”.  But when Hindus violated that agreement, Muslims protested.

This is testified by the following excerpt from Rahman’s.

“After this, despite the efforts of nationalist Muslims and the agreement between Rajandar Prasad and Abdul Haq, accepting  Hindustani as the common language of Hindus and Muslims(1942:38), Hindi and Urdu grew further apart.”

Further, as a term for nomenclature or definitive term, the word Hindustani has been used in combination with other  words like “Hindustani Language” in which case it means Urdu-Hindi or “Hindustani Languages” in which case it means different  languages spoken in Hindustan. Hindustani would either mean Urdu-Hindi or an inhabitant of Hindustan.


The fact is, it all was started by the Muslim elite of UP, who faced with the threat from the rising  consciousness in Hindu majority with regard to their rights, raised the slogan of Muslim Nationalism/Communalism. They used  the idea of separate Muslim identity, enshrined in Urdu script and religion, for share in power and resources as the  following excerpt from Dr. Tariq Rahman's book shows. The text is actually of some Hamid Ali Khan, one of the "nobles" of UP.

“though the Hindus, including of course all classes of them, constitute the majority; but it cannot be said that the entire  body of them can claim the same political and social importance as Mohammadan.(1900;38)”

The point is, can just a script be the basis of a distinct identity? And if it cannot be and Pakistan is not going to have  separate basis of identity and our destiny ultimately lies with Hindustan, why the hell did we separate from Hindustan!

According to Dr. Tariq Rehman:

"According to linguists, Hindi and Urdu are two styles of the same language...both have the same inflectional system and a  common core of basic vocabulary; they differ in the learned words used.......as mentioned earlier, medieval Muslim writers  used the word Hindi for the languages of north-western India. This language however was different both from Persianized Urdu  and Sansikrtized Hindi...The urge to purge Hindi of many indigenous words was initiated by Muslim literary figures from 1702  to 1705....The more Persianized form of it however was really only used by educated middle and upper-class males. In other  words, it was a sociolect, though the less Persianized version of it was more commonly used in Northern India".

About Hindi, T. Rehman writes:

"However, despite linguistic pluralism, the Hindu language remained an important symbol in the construction of Hindu identity  during the same period...."

I wonder if they had to Persianized Khariboli, called Hindustani, an attempt, which failed, why didn't they adopt Persian altogether?
 


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Urdu is native to India than to Pakistan and is the language of the culturally and politically dominant North-West Indians  who are in majority in Hindustan- and that it is actually Hindi but slightly Persianized. Even that distinction between Hindi  and Urdu has disappeared. The high Hindi as used in Bollywood today is now the same as high Urdu. One can well imagine, “how  great” would be the difference at colloquial level. Just imagine Hindus and Muslims in UP, MP, Bihar, etc. living in shared  localities and interacting with each other on daily basis! I don’t think there would be any Persianization or Sanscritization  of Urdu-Hindi (Let us call it Urindi for convenience) at colloquial level---that seems implausible to me.

The facts are,

1. Urdu-Hindi is native to India having evolved from Khari-boli during the declining phase of Mughal rule in India, and so  the core of it has been borrowed from an ancient base that primarily symbolized and carried a Hindustani cultural spirit and  world-view.

2. Both Urdu-Hindi and Hindustani Civilization, with Hinduism as the predominant element, have their center of gravity in Gangetic plain, the very heart of Hinduism/Hindustani Civilization, where the “sacred” River Gang flows…and that there some  kind of symbiotic relationship between Urdu-Hindi and Hindustani/Hindu Civilization.

3. It is a sort of lingua-franca in Hindustan, a symbol of the cultural/civilizational unity of India, at least to the  outside world, and one of the most important elements of Hindustani identity.

4. It is the language of the majority of Hindustanis i.e. the north-western Indians, who are culturally and politically more  dominant. Moreover, it is the most-favored language at the level of state in Hindustan and a symbol of status and  sophistication for common Hindustanis.

5. It is the main vehicle for disseminating Hindustani Culture outside Hindustan.

6. The rather minor Persian-heavy and Sanskrit-heavy difference between the two styles of high Hindustani i.e. Urdu and Hindi  has mostly disappeared and now the only remaining difference is the Perso-Arabic and Devanagari scripts. The difference at  colloquial level, as pointed to above, was most likely already non-existent.

7. The fact that it is the mother-tongue of about 300 millions Hindustanis but the mother tongue of only 10 millions  Pakistanis.
 


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See it in very simple terms, what are the main native languages of Pakistan? Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Baloch etc. Nobody can argue that Punjabi native language is Punjabi ... to claim otherwise is a lie!!!

By teaching and spreading Urdu what are you doing? In effect your creating a vehicle that enables Pakistani's to be able to  communicate effectively with Indian's!!! Urdu has trans-national capability - With India!!!

Your enabling a Pashtun or a Punjabi to be able to speak with 98% effectiveness with say Gujrati, Tamil, Orrisan, Telagu  Indian's. Without Urdu the Pashtun would not be able to speak with any Indian and a Punjabi would be limited to North Western  Indian!!!

Clearly the effect of this is your homogenizing divergent peoples of South Asia - Your creating uniformity with India, which  is inconsistent with the whole notion of Pakistan. If people of Pakistan really do want homogenized into India then great go  ahead and spread Urdu but then again why not re-unify with India? Would at least save lot of money!!!

Its this basic contradictory nature of Urdu that I am having problems rationalizing and is at the heart of my disgust with  this 'language of indianization' which in the long term will rip up any precious local identity we have and end up getting  emulsified into the greater India.

This effect can be seen in Ireland where the Irish fought for centuries to free themselves from their English masters and  rallied around their Celtic roots/culture. However their own language - Gaelic over time was wiped out by English. The effect  of this can be seen now in present day Ireland. Despite now being a independent country their culture has been wiped out by  English/American influence ... indeed Ireland now is just a extension of UK bar the slight difference in accents!!!

Indeed I wonder what was the point of centuries of troubles? I fear the same will happen in Pakistan.

So the question Pakistani's should ask is 'do we want to be homogenized into India'? I know what my answer is!!!
 


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Although we Pakistanis are grateful to Jinnah's efforts in the creation of Pakistan, as a human being he was not perfect.  Jinnah's choice of Urdu as Pakistan's national language was his biggest mistake with long-term negative consequences for  Pakistan. And his harsh words/attitude for Pakistanis against Urdu imposition is deplorable particularly when he stated those  against Urdu as enemies of Pakistan. Similar condemnations for an aspect of other nations' founding fathers is not uncommon.  For an extreme example, the founding fathers of the USA are condemned for their racist comments/attitude towards the Blacks,  Native Americans, etc. But nations evolve with time.. modifying their stance on critical issues for the greater benefit of  its peoples and national interest.. based on the ground realities whether that be for the sake of unity, fairness, equality,  freedom, etc. Same thing applies to Pakistan with regard to the unjust imposition of Urdu as the national language.
 


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I know many Indian Hindus very well and I can assure you that there is very little difference between their Hindi language  and Pakistan's (actually Muhajir's) Urdu language. They are one and the same language with the only difference being that  Urdu has a little more of Persian words and is written in the Perso-Arabic script, whereas Hindi has more of Sanskrit words  and is written in the Devangari script. Written script does not mean any thing nor does loan-words ... for example, Azeri  language of Azerbaijan has some Russian words and is written in the Cyrillic script, whereas Azeri language of Iran has some  Persian words and is written in the Perso-Arabic script. Regardless, Azeris of both countries are the same people speaking  the same language! Same thing applies to Urdu and Hindi.. they are almost the same language and the whole world knows that!

Urdu was originally called Hindustani.. Hindi was extracted from it during the British rule by ejecting many Persian words  and adopting Devangari script (at Fort Williams College.. where Urdu was also further developed.. and communalization of  Hindustani language was invented).. Hindustani evolved during the declining period of Muslim rule due to the interaction  between Persian speaking Muslim rulers and Khari-boli speaking Hindus of UP/Delhi/MP/etc. region. Hindustani (aka Urdu or aka  Hindi) was only native in those regions of UP/MP/Bihar/Delhi/etc. With the invention of Two Nation Theory and communalization  of north India, the Persianized form of Hindustani now was called Urdu and remained the mother tongue of only Muslims of  UP/MP/Delhi/Bihar/etc. (and Muhajirs in Pakistan) whereas the newly engineered Sanskritized form of Hindustani was called  Hindi and slowly became the mother tongue of Hindus of these same regions. But they were still the same languages and still  are.. for example if Turks of Anatolia adopted the Latin script less than a century ago and added words from  English/French... it still remains the same Turkish language, regardless of those minor changes! You are living in a fool's  paradise by denying the fact that Hindi and Urdu are the same language!

Sindhi, Balochi, Pashto, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Seraiki, etc. are distinct languages.. and have nothing to do with Urdu! Urdu  only made some inroads in Pakistan region during British rule but was limited to the few educated/elite because of the then  Hindustani Muslim domination of politics/education/etc. It was only after 1947 that Urdu made some serious inroads in  Pakistan under the banner of national language, and Muhajir domination of media/govt.

Since Urdu and Hindi are the same language, Urdu as the national language of Pakistan has caused an identity crises in  Pakistan. Much of the world perceives Indians and Pakistanis as the same people because they speak the same language  (Urdu/Hindi).. only divided by religion. The fact is.. Urdu is only the mother-tongue of Muhajirs from UP/MP/Delhi/Bihar/etc.  who happen to be only less than 7% of Pakistanis. So this is cultural domination of one ethnic group (a small minority) on  others. Bengalis resented it and we lost them mostly because of that. Many other Pakistanis resent Urdu. Enough is enough...  Urdu should be eliminated as Pakistan's national language.

Hindi is the mother-tongue of India's largest ethnic group (30%) and the country itself has/had the issue of Hindi language  imposition on other ethnic groups. This language has mostly dominated in Indian media including Bollywood. Everyone knows how  popular Indian media and its cultural elements are spreading its tentacles in Pakistan. So the cultural invasion from India  is a reality... and to whitewash this ongoing destruction ("Indianization") with denials is committing a silent cultural  suicide.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with taking pride in one's ethnic identity.. they are one of the many layers of an individual's  identity.. de facto. To deny this basic right is like telling some one not to talk about your height because others might  have different heights. Taking pride in one's ethnicity does not equate to prejudice or superiority complex. The evil of  prejudice/hatred/superiority complex is a whole different subject and can be found in every thing including religion,  ethnicity, nationality, race, etc. As long as we accept and respect each other including the ethnic differences, and keep  unity based on our common: history, linguistic identity, geography, religion, racial background, cultural roots, defence,  and/or economy/commerce... then Pakistan will remain unified FOREVER... provided that there is fairness, equality, and  freedom. So let's make change that is fair and make the country stronger by replacing Urdu with Dari/Farsi.

As I said in my previous posts, I am confident that Dari/Farsi will be the perfect choice as our national language because:

1. This language is not the mother-tongue of any ethnic group of Pakistan thus eliminating the cultural domination of an  ethnic group and the resentment among other ethnic groups because of it.

2. This language and its derivatives were mostly spoken in Pakistan region in the pre-British period. That is to say, Rig  Vedic Aryans spoke Vedic an Iranian language closely related to Avestan, ... Achaemanian and Sassanian periods had Old  Persian language spoken as one of the major languages, ... Scythian, Parthian, Kushan, Hephthalite, etc. periods had  different Iranian languages spoken such as Bactrian, Old Saka, Pahlavi, Tocharian, etc. as major languages, .... Turkic,  Afghan, and Mughal Muslim periods exclusively had Farsi as the official language, ... even local kingdoms such as Ranjit  Singh's and others had Farsi as the official language, etc. So this is the natural/historical language of the region.

3. This language will end the cultural invasion from India since Pakistanis will not be able to comprehend any Indian  language. This will make the Pakistani identity stronger and distinct from India's. Indian movies/TV/music will not  culturally corrupt the Pakistanis nor brainwash them with Indian/Hindu media's propaganda.

4. This language will make Pakistan closer to its western neighbors since the same language is spoken in Iran, Afghanistan,  and Tajikistan. This will benefit Pakistan economically because of the closer cultural-linguistic ties with the abundant  natural resources/energy-rich region. Pakistan film-industry will also be influenced by the classy Persian film-industry  giving a much more artistic and respectful dimension to the currently cheap (Indian-influenced) Pakistani films.
 


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According to Encyclopedia Britannica:

"Urdu originated in the region between the Ganges and Jamuna rivers near Delhi, now the official language of Pakistan.... In  the sociopolitical realm, Urdu and Hindi are different languages, but the colloquial basis of both is identical.... Less than  8% of Pakistanis—mainly immigrants and descendants of immigrants from India after the 1947 partition—speak it as a first  language."
 


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For me the question is simple. What was the purpose of Pakistan? Was it to chart a destiny different from India? Or was it  just to have a separate political unit but that would just follow India like a dog?

In my view the purpose of Pakistan was to follow a different destiny. If Pakistan was somewhere in middle of India, or had  peoples that were 100% the same as Indian's I would not even begin to support a change of language or attempt at  re-orientating the country. It would be a exercise in futility, I would accept the inevitability, that we are just Indian  and there is no point in wasting time deluding ourselves. In fact I would arrive at he rationale that independence was a  mistake and would advocate immediate unification and save all that money on defense and save any more lives lost in defense  of our independence. But that is not what I believe. We are different but we have to rid ourselves of British legacy.

What I see is our geographic location, our peoples and our history contains sufficient substance and difference to service a  genuine change of direction. Indeed it follows naturally from our independence. If we don't change direction all I can say is  then let truth express itself - Join India, confederate with it. Or else the only excuse I can see for Pakistan is to provide  a platform for a small native elite, the Mahajir elite and the Mullah to enrich themselves.

I don't know how the hell I can be accused of being unpatriotic, I am trying to put real distance between us and India, I  support fortifying our identity and anchoring our identity.

In the preceding centuries it was us who in the sub continent took the brunt of influences derived from the West, it was us  who were invaded by the Greeks, it was our lands that saw the Ghandara Greco-Bactrian Kingdoms, Taxila today is a living  testimony to this. It was our lands that saw the flourishing of Indus Valley civilization. No doubt we have been sometimes  the easternmost satrapy of Persia, or under the influence of 'Indian' based empires, and sometimes independent made up of  small kingdoms. But by large, Pakistan region was has a distinct history from India and this is explained in detail on the website: www.oocities.com/pak_history

What's certain is we sit on the margins of Central/South Asia and we broke of from the British colonial empire that had welded  us to Calcutta and then Delhi - Even that experience was for less then a century.

Today we are still struggling with British colonial legacy, the stamp left on us of being 'Indian' that was imprinted on us  by the British. We are in a 'swing status' we can tilt either way.

55 years after having thrown off the British colonial yoke we have yet to undo its legacy and language is central to that.  Clearly had the British not taken over Punjab ( 1850 ) and NWFP ( 1880 ) we would not have had Urdu as our language, we would  not have been so 'connected' to the Indian heartland - the Ganges plains.

Al we have done since 1947 is sever our links with British colonialism but kept the donated blood flowing in our system. Ask  yourself this simple question, which is the language that India is spreading through its diverse peoples? Which is the  language that all Indians will speak in the future? It is Hindi of course!!!

Now Urdu is same as Hindi. Clearly having Perso Arabic script and more Persian words  is not enough to create a distinct language. At end of day Hindi and Urdu are very similar.

So do Pakistani's want to 'Indianize' themselves? Does Pakistan want to become the common cultural realm of India? I and some  others oppose this, we see inconsistency with having Pakistan and then trying to make it another India.

We are trying to distance ourselves from India, how the hell can that be unpatriotic? Must we be pro Indian to be patriotic?  We are anti Indian and that's we we want to distance ourselves from India. We do not want to marry ourselves to India.

Of course any change has to take into account our history, our geography and our peoples. We can't just adopt any language in  the quest to break free from colonial legacy, the British fostered forced gun marriage to India.

So Malay, Indonesian, Arabic are out since we are not geographically anywhere near these regions and have no historical links  with them. The change has to take into account our history. That we have on our westerly side. For many centuries in the  preceding thousands of years we have been linked to our westerly neighbors, been part of Persian empires. So the choice is  limited, either we look east ( with whom we also have shared some of our history ) or the west.

If it was the east we wanted then why the hell 1947, the British had given us free off cost a ready made union but we  separated. So the only natural consequence is a look westward and language is the key component of this.

Finally the difference between us and India is not just religion. India is a vast country made up of many 'nations' of  different ethnicity. There is no Balochistan, Pashtun or Sindh in India. The exclusive homeland of Sindhi, Pashtun and Baloch  is Pakistan only the Punjabi are found in India but as mentioned before they are some 5% of India. That 5% is hardly  descriptive of the vast country called India, which is a continent in itself.

Take a look at your environment, you live in a land thats either mountains or semi to full desert, now find out what most of  India is? You are in the easternmost arid zone that extends from Iran, whereas most of India is well watered, tropical  region.

There is some Baloch in Iran as well but nobody ever thinks that Pakistan is same as Iran!!! Or there are large numbers (  largest minority ) Pashtun in Afghanistan but that does not make Afghanistan same as Pakistan. The provinces ( peoples )  Punjab, NWFP ( Pashtun ), Baloch and Sindh that make up Pakistan is a mix and a matrix that is unique to Pakistan. Religion is  but one marker of our identity. We are not Bengali, Tamil, Etc Moslems, our lands are not tropical/delta swamps!!! Ours are  harsh dry desert or lofty mountains creating difficult conditions and a hardy people, traditionally poor but proud. It was not  a co incidence that the British looked to our lands to fill up their armies. We were a simple people.

Time we undid the British colonialism and marked our own identity.
 


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Languages can and are imposed. Since we in Pakistan have never had true democracy ( unless you think that feudal gathering  otherwise known as the NA is a repository of public will ) to say the people of Pakistan chose anything is disingenous.

To impose a language is not to say its forced down peoples mouth at gun point but its done by indirect and subtle ways. A  modern state is a powerful agent of change, it can and does use its agencies, influence, sponsorship, to directly or  indirectly mould the masses.

Besides the effect of declaring Urdu as its national language, the state has sponsored Urdu directly in the our educational  system teaches Urdu to all students, the effect of which is to create millions of people able to speak that language. All  mediums ( TV or others ) use Urdu which helps in its transmission to even people who have not been to school.

Indeed it was the British who first fostered its use and spread. Since then the Pakistani state has been busy for the last 55  years in spreading it further whilst simultaneously across the border in India Urdu's sister language Hindi is being spread.  What the British started off on ( to create pan trans-India language ) has been continued by both Pakistan and India with one  minor difference, the former in Perso-Arabic script the latter in Devangiri script.

In the past different peoples of India/Pakistan would not have been able to communicate with each other - or been  limited to a small elite speaking perhaps Farsi but not too long in the future Indo-Pakistan will be 100% capable of  inter-communication in Hindi/Urdu. We will be locked into the Indo realm forever with just a political line dividing us - as  language is a powerful vehicle of culture Pakistan being smaller will just become a satellite of India.

By patronizing Urdu you are bonding Pakistan with India .. if that's what people want then fair enough but I have to ask why  the costly partition of 1947 then? If the point of 1947 was to lead us to a destiny different from India we seem to have  chosen the same road as India ... yeh maybe have a different color of vehicle but the destination will be same as India.

Again I realize that Punjab ( the only Pak. province ) overlaps into Indian Punjab but Indian Punjab does not epitomize India  .. clearly being 5% of India its just marginal to the main body of India.

Just because part of Pakistan is able to communicate effectively with 5% of India does not mean we got to make all of  Pakistan able to communicate with all of 1,060 million Indians .. which is what's going to happen if we continue with Urdu.
 


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1. Pakistan came into being in 1947 and I don't really care how it came about much less that we should forever be locked into  the reasons, the basis or the idealogy that gave birth to it.

2. 1947 event was a historical determinant which just undid what had happened in another historical determinant of 1847 when  this region ( Indus Valley ) had been fabricated into the British India. Was there any fundamental reason in 1847 which lead  to this ( Indus Valley region ) to become wedded to British India? No there was not, it was just a historical accident  motivated by British greed. Yes greed had brought us under the colonial British India.

4. I don't treat the events, forces or the ideologies that gave birth to Pakistan in 1947 as holy or feel obligated to them  beyond the fact that 1947 event was historical in that it undid the 1847 event, the former neutralizing the latter. It  corrected a anomaly caused by colonial lust!!!

5. Colonialism forced us into British India and colonialism created forces ( the English educated predominantly Mahajir ) who  were the force majeaur behind Pakistan. Why should I thank the latter? Without British colonialism there would have been no  Jinnah, no Muslim Leaque but then again there would have been no need for 1947 because the region that is Pakistan now would  have evolved on its own.

6. Prior to the British interfering in our region ( Indus Valley ) this area had independent Khanates, Emirates and Kingdoms  ( Mirs of Sindh, Khans of Balochistan and Sikh Kingdom of Punjab ) and we would have evolved naturally without third party  dictation - British. I do know though that the evolution of this region probably would have ended up with either states or  state somewhat different from what we have now but the solid realities on the ground would have impacted on the evolution -  the foremost being that this region has and had a solid Moslem majority, probably greater than 80%. Today there would  either have been states or a state in the area that is Pakistan ( geographic Indus Valley ) that would be colored by two  ground realities - the peoples, Punjabi, Pashtun, Sindhi, Baloch and predominantly with a Islamic flavor.

7. At end of the day its 'the boots on the ground' that makes the real difference as indeed it did in 1947, had this region  not had a Moslem majority whose numbers carried the weight to give substance to the dreams of Muslim Leaque. It was this  region ( the four provinces ) that elected to join the federation without which the combined votes and intellectual vigor of  all the Moslems scattered all over India ( UP, Bihar, Madya Pradesh etc ) would have produced zilch.

8. So one set of historical circumstances ( British colonialism ) created a negativity for us but at the same time gave birth  to another set of circumstances ( British education and ideas flourished in what is now India on account of having been  colonialized much earlier with the populace have imbibed modern concepts which would help to counter the British with the  Muslim Leaque/Congress being the manifestation of this ) which neutralized the negativity. Without one the other would  neither have existed or been needed. So put it simply 1947 was just a reaction to the action of 1847 - Like I don't need to  try to rationalize or find the deep motives, philosophies or higher ideals for the 1847 event I don't need to for 1947 either  other then look at them both as very significant historical determinants that altered and realtered the land of my  forefathers, in both which my people slept through or had very marginal input.

9. Since 1847 the land of my forefathers has gone through a rollercoaster with my people as helpless occupants but reality is  today we have a Pakistan, the sovereignty belongs to the 'sons of the soil' again. My concern today is with them and which  direction we go to now. Although a citizen of Britain and having the deepest respect for the English people I detest the  colonial era and all its attendant ills/effects/legacy.

8. The colonial era cemented us with rest of India ( geographic ) more efficiently then any other power had done, its  administrative ability, its economic power, its modern rail network 'Indianized' us more effectively then had we evolved free  from British interference. In short they wedded us to the greater India and by default to the countries that inherited the  British Indian Empire - India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

9. Although I have a healthy respect for many Indians ( indeed I would count some as friends ) I loath the idea with every  sinew of my body that we are a extension or just a offshoot of Bharat. I want us to have a solid identity exclusive of Bharat  and based on our own peoples.

10. I look at the Mahajirs as carriers of the 'Indian vector', now you might say what about the Punjabi's? After all they are  also a 'bridge' to India but its important to note that Indian Punjabi's are a minority. Yes there are other sub groups of  Pakistan ( Kashmiri or Sindhi ) who also happen to be found in India but again their numbers are a drop in the ocean that  India is. Whets more these groups do not form the gravitas of the Indian state.

11. The Indian state has adopted the language of the Ganges plains ( Hindi ) as its national tongue and will over time  homogenize all the divergent peoples of India into one block under the overarching label 'Indian'. All states do this, they  adopt one particular brand ( often the one belonging to the majority/most influential ) and over time create a homogenized  block out of variety of cultures/peoples. Modern states tend to do it faster and more effectively on back of better  administrative structures/economics and technology ( TV etc ) the effect of this over time will bring together the Telagu,  Tamil, Punjabi, Assamese, Ladaki, Malaylam, Orrisan and all other strange peoples - I say strange because bar the Indian  Punjabi/Rajasthani most Pakistani's have not had any deep contact with or knowledge of. This will eventually ( it already is  well on the way ) create a solid block of over a billion people speaking Hindi going under the banner 'Indian'.

12. In Pakistan the imported Mahajir group also predominantly comes from the Gangetic Valley and from the same source that  Bharat ( India ) draws its gravitas from. Thus Urdu and Hindi are essentially the same languages bar the scripts - clearly a  Hindi speaker can speak with ease to a Urdu speaker. Not surprising since both languages were fashioned in the same furnace -  the Ganges Valley.

13. The British standardized Urdu/Hindi to serve as their common pan India language and act as the interface with the host of  different peoples. India has adopted Hindi and we have adopted Urdu so in essence we are continuing on the British mission  .... to construct a sub continental realm call it India if you want.

14. Just to prove my contention go back to 1850 and ask yourself how many peoples of present day Pakistan could have  communicated in their 'native' language with a Tamil, a Bengali, a Telagu, a Assamese, a Kanadese etc? Not many I suspect!!!

15. But now fast forward to say 2050 and we have a Pakistan that has 100% literacy which would mean over time Urdu as native  tongue to 100% .... Whilst in India all Indians would have achieved 100% proficiency in their national language Hindi  ............... Given this scenario in 2050 100% of Pakistan could communicate in their national language with 100% Indians  in their native language. We would have created a sub continent that would be uniformalized and finished off the project  launched by the British.

Is that what we want? Is that why we broke off at great expense in 1947? To become part of the ocean of humanity with just a  script to identify us? This thought terrifies me!!!
 


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1. Urdu was neither spoken nor understood by the majority of the Pakistani population i.e. 54% Bangalis, 24% Punjabis, 10%  Pashtuns, 3% Baluchis, and 8% Sindhis. It was the mother tongue of only 3% immigrants from UP. So it wasn’t as a common  language in almost all Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan, East Bangal, rural Sindh, and most of the Punjab except few urban centers.

2. It was not native to the land and its relationship to the land didn’t predate the British Raj. On the contrary,  Dari/Persian was a lingua-franca for a much longer period and was probably as much better understood in rural areas of West  Pakistan than Urdu.

3. As it was a minority language, its imposition caused resentment among the locals. Its declaration as a national language  was a blunder that had long as well as short term consequences for the political future and distinct cultural  development/evolution of Pakistan as we saw it in the dismemberment in 1971 and we are seeing it in the gradual lapse of  non-Urdu speaking communities in the broader Hindustani Cultural milieu today.

Important point here is an identity distinct from Hindustan. And for that Pakistan would have to orient itself towards  Central Asia because that is a Muslim region as well as geographically contiguous to Pakistan.

Pakistan would have to make three shifts in order to do that:

Cultural Shift: The first thing would be doing away with Urdu as a national language and adopting Dari as language of  communication. That would break one link of the communities of Pakistan with India.

Other links with Hindustan will also have to be cut off e.g. food, dress, social rituals (marriage, child birth, death  ceremonies, etc.), architecture, music, dance, and other cultural practices would have to be nativised. The middle and upper  classes would have to take initiative in that regard because usually it is these classes that are the trend setters.

Economic Shift: Economic ties with the Neighbors in the North (Tajakistan, Karghizia), West (Afghanistan and  Turkamanistan/Uzbakistan beyond), and South-West (Iran) would have to be vitalized. Currently, there are a number of  communication projects underway e.g. Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway would be open for traffic in 2006. In 2005, work on an  express-way from Peshawar to Torkham i.e Pak-Afghan border will be commenced. This would link Punjab and NWFP with Central  Asia.

To link Karachi with Central Asia, the present single-carriage Indus high-way will be converted into a double-carriage way.  From Saroki in DI Khan, there will be a road built to Ghulam Khan (in Waziristan Pak-Afghan border) connecting DI Khan and  Southern Punjab to Ghulam Khan, so another trade route.

Probably railway and road links from Queta-to-Qandahar are also under consideration. This will tie Pakistan with Afghanistan  and Turkaministan via Queta-Qandahar-Herat route.

There is already the Karakuram Highway only if we wouldn't export fundamentalism into Sinkiang. Probably, they are also  digging a tunnel in Lowari (between Dir and Chitral). Currently, NHA is working on access route to Lowari. I don't know how  much is the political will to construct this tunnel but if realy constructed, that would become a route to Tajakistan via  Wakhan and Badakhshan.

I don't know about the road links between Pakistan and Iran.

All this is going to give huge boost to tourism as well. And Punjabis and Urdu-speakers should start learning bit of  Pashto/Baluchi/Dari to have good relations with these communities.

The interaction will help bring cultural influences from Central Asia and will enrich the native culture.

Political Shift: Pakistan must not consider Afghanistan its zone of influence because that country is in proximity to many  important regions and countries and all have stakes in it. In the short run, political disputes with the countries to the  North-West should be resolved amicably-borders should be made bit soft. In the long-run, some sort of regional political  configuration, based on bit greater autonomy to communites involved and volutary political relations gauranteed by a sacred  constitution/contract, is inevitable.

Frankly speaking, Pashtuns as well Baluchis have a stake in Afghanistan/Iran as well as Pakistan. Recently, I talked to few  Pakhtoons of Afghanistan and they told me that when Pakistan looses a cricket match, they become unhappy/sad. Another friend  told me that people in Kabul generally have the impression that Pakistan is a good country.

By trying to conquer Afghanistan, the ambitious leaders of Pakistan have harmed Pakistan as well as Pakhtoons. Had they not  become so deeply involved in Afghanistan, today Afghans would've been the greatest allies of Pakistan. Moreover, they have  been insulted/humuliated by Pakistani police.

So the political shift should be from a hegemonistic and Islam-exporting attitude to friendly political relations based on  mutual respect. Certain problems relating to integration of communities and water disputes should be addressed.

Common ground should not be Pan-Islam rather geographical proximity, neighborhood, common Muslim Culture, and foremost  economy. Also never bring Arabs into this because they will spoil everything using the opportunity for strengthening Pan-Arab  world-power ambitions. Never involve political Mullahs. We don't have any greater common ground with Arabs e.g. they are  Semites, they maintain Harems, they consider themselves superior, they are sons of desert we plain land and mountains, we  have lived around great rivers, they around springs and torrents, etc.
 


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Muhajirs may be more competent but there are reasons for it.

> The native Pakistanis were mostly rural/agrarian-peasant/tribal people with little civic amenities to enhance their  skills/competencies. Muhajirs on the other hand hailed from the traditional centers of leaning/industry. They therefore were  better educated/skilled and had superior enterprenuering abilities compared to natives.

> When they migrated to Pakistan, they got detached from the static/rigid set up of extended/joint family and feudal culture  and entered a more flexible, vibrant urban socio-economic setup, which afforded them better individual freedom and  opportunities for economic activism. Transformation from extended/joint family system to nuclear family is inevitable for a  transition to capitalistic-industrial based system.

Natives on the other hand remained tied to the stagnant agrarian social setup which greatly inhibits initiative and activism  within the individual.

> On arrival, Muhajirs grabbed the economic assets left by the prosperous Hinus/Sikhs. These resources included urban-based  property as well as agricultural land. Almost, every Muhajir got some share and probably greater than he/she left in  Hindustan. Amongst the natives, on the other hand, the class-based system, i.e. haves and have-nots, survived.

Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan allotted his son three ice-factories and two cinemas in Lahore alone.

> Because Liaqat Ali Khan had left his constituency in Karnal/Ambala and had no constituency to be elected from, he had  Muhajirs settled in the port city of Karachi, which gave Muhajirs huge advantage over natives in terms of trade and business.

> Liaqat Ali Khan also promoted Muhajir politicians e.g. Choudri Khaliquzaman. This choudri Khaliquzaman had been "appointed"  by Mohammad Ali Jinnah as the leader of Muslim League in India at the time of partition and had taken oath as an Indian  citizen, so much so that he had also issued a statement against Pakistan on the issue of Hindus-Sikhs-Muslims roits during  partition. But when he saw the opportunity in newly-born Pakistan, he silently left India and migrated to Pakistan within a  few days.

> Muhajirs also got greater share in jobs and services in the new Pakistan. Liaqat Ali Khan had sat aside two types of quota  for Muhajirs; one for Muhajirs that had already migrated; and the other (15%) for those that had not yet migrated but were  "AAzimeen-i-Hijrat" (who had decided to migrate but were still in Hindustan).

> Karach was the capital city and Muhajirs were better poised to have access to the centralized system of resource allocation.  Huge investments were done in Karachi. Most of the industrialists and owners of financial institutions were Muhajirs at that  time. The bureaucratic structure running these institutions was also Muhajir dominated. Interestingly these Muhajir owners,  industrialists, and bureaucrats also were members of Industrial Law Authority of Pakistan, which framed laws regarding  issuing of industrial loans.

> Urdu and Muhajir Culture of UP was promoted as "Pakistani and Islamic Culture" and the rest were considered un-Islamic and  anti-Pakistani languages/cultures. Those in services who couldn't or didn't speak Urdu well were considered disloyal to the  state and were discriminated against in promotion and other economic opportunities. As Muhajir on the other hand practiced  the "favored" Pakistani Culture (i.e. Urdu etc.), that benefited them economically and politically.

> Because of this undue importance to Urdu and UP Culture and their dominant position in economy, Muhajirs started considering  themselves superior to natives, whom they considered uncouth and raw.

> Two-Nation Theory was also invented by Gen Sher Ali Khan, a Muhajir, in late 1970s, this to weaken local identities and  native cultures and to firmly en-grass the concept of resource-acquisition based on merit in the system despite the fact that  socio-economic development in Pakistan was very uneven and backward communities had to be given extra opportunities to pull  them up to a reasonable level of development.

> I have found them very Muhajir-centric. When I was at Peshawar University, I met many Muhajir teachers who, despite life  long career in the university and among Pakhtoons, had no respect for local culture and didn't like students to talk to each  other in local languages. Against this, there were Gligitis, Punjabis, Baluchis, Sindhis, etc. who would easily mix with  locals and would try to learn local languages. Interestingly, both Muhajirs and Punjabis migrated to Mardan (NWFP) but  whereas Punjabis assimilated in the local culture, adopting Pashto as a language, Muhajirs didn't. Muhajirs sold their  properties and migrated to Karachi. Same occurred in Kohat and Peshawar. Some Punjabis that have migrated to Malakand  Division have developed harmony with the local culture. One guy has become a leader also and is popular among young people.

> It seems Pakistan doesn't have a native culture. The present Pakistani Culture with Urdu at its core doesn't truly reflect  what Pakistan culturally is. This must be changed. One point that I notice in Muhajirs is that, because they are an  exclusively urban community (dominating Karachi, Sakhar, Hyderabad leaving poor Sindhis with only one urban center i.e.  Larkana), they cannot understand the worth and significance of rural values. True there may be a lot of bad things in rural  outlook but there are a number of good points in rural values as well.

I am not against Muhajirs but they should understand that times are changed now. The native communities of  Pakistan are waking up from their deep slumber by adopting modernization and soon they will be making demands regarding their  share in economy and due recognition to their culture. So Muhajirs should stop being cultural/economic hegemon. They should  improve relations with natives and should give bit of space and respect to the cultural sensitivities of native communities.

This opportunity-based-on merit is a misleading notion until I am also allotted some property left back by Hindus/Sikhs at the time  of partition
 


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The critical mass of Punjabi population is in Pakistan while in India they are a small, insignificant minority. Being a  minority, Indian Punjab cannot influence Pakistani Punjabis as much as Pakistani Punjabis can influence Indian Punjabis. Had  the Punjabi language been allowed to flourish in Pakistan, cultural influences from Pakistani Punjab over Indian Punjab would  have rather been more profound than vice versa? Moreover, as Pakistani Punjabis are in majority, Punjabi would have evolved  independently and gone it own course than Punjabi in India. By preferring Urdu to Punjabi, you have culturally weakened  Punjabis making them more vulnerable to cultural influences from across Wahga. Had they been allowed cultural creativity in  their own Central-South Asian environment and Muslim civilizational context, they might probably have had solidified their  distinct Central-South Asian Muslim Punjabi identity.

(I think we are committing the gravest blunder by blocking /arresting cultural creativity in native languages and imposing  Urdu-Hindi, we are making Pakistanis communities more vulnerable to the cultural/civilizational onslaught of Hindustan…this  religion thing wouldn’t be effective for longer especially when the globalization and secularization trend would strengthen  and further gain momentum.)

Punjabi is also native to Pakistan. True it is also native to India but in Hindustan, it doesn’t have that grand-scale  influence as Urdu-Hindi has. It doesn’t symbolize Hindustan and its Civilization to the extent as Urdu-Hindi does. It doesn’t  form the kind of stronger link/interface to India as Urdu-Hindi forms and its ability as a vehicle to spread Hindustani  Cultural influences is limited. Most of the culture of Hindustan is not broadcasted through Punjabi or Sindhi but Urdu-Hindi.

Moreover, Punjabis have never demanded making it a national language of Pakistan. The same is true of Bengali, Sindhi, and  Kashmiri, which are spoken by more people outside Hindustan than inside Hindustan, which are native to Kashmir, Sindh, and  Bangla Desh, and which are not identified with Hindustani Civilization as Urdu-Hindi is, and which are not as much and as  strong “carriers” for Hindustani cultural influences as Urdu-Hindi.

However, let us assume, and as the fact is, that Urdu-Hindi as well as Punjabi are spoken in Hindustan. Now is Punjabi the  stronger link with Hindustan or Urdu? Which link should be cut first, the stronger or the weaker? The irony is, by  suppressing the native Punjabi and retaining foreign Urdu-Hindi, the stronger link has further been strengthened. Either both  links should be cut or the stronger link.
 


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Punjabi is a beautiful language just like other Pakistani languages. However, I don't think it will be a good idea as our  national language. The reason is simply because we will still face the issue of one ethnic group's cultural domination on  others, and the resentment by others because of that. Plus, we don't want to give another reason for the ethnic nationalists  to complain about and label Pakistan as a true "Punjabistan". Simply put, its a recipe for disaster and possible  insurgencies.

Dari/Farsi should be easy to replace Urdu because it has some commonality with it... plus historically was the official  language in the region.
 


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I think the future World would be increasingly organized along civilizational lines.

Due to a number of factors including the nature of modern state/society, political and state patronage, modern means of  communication, modern institutions and education, internal colonialism, movement of populations across porous borders, and  consumerism/commercialism, the civilizations that have historical antiquity and cultural depth would further expand their  zones of influence. Dominent civilizations would bring increasing number of tribal and rural communities under their fold.

One example would suffice to elaborate this point. A Pashto T.V. Channel was launched a year ago. It started looking for  advertisement but faced tremendous difficulties because companies considered Pashto a local language and Urdu understandable  by Pashtuns. Obviously, if there is a lingua franca, why should companies spend on advertising in "local languages"!

Bollywood is producing films in Urindi ( Urdu-Hindi ) because the vast market from Khyber to Dhaka enhances the profit margin  for their products significantly.

Multinationals and national companies also tend to prefer languages patronized by state and state elite to secure favor and  to gain access to market and resources. Consequently, local artists get less for their creative effort.

Coming back to the point, Gangetic plain was the bastion of Hindustani civilization. And the territories to the north were  either the invasion routes for Central Asian hordes or transit places where they camped. Gagetic plain was a sort of final  home/destination for these hordes where they got passively assimilated, vanishing forever, in the wider Hindustani society,  like an element submerges into a compound or a river drains into an ocean.

In my opinion Hindustani identity is more mythical than other northwestern identities because the core of this identity  sprung from a more stable and broader ecological base (i.e. Gangetic plain) and comparatively in more ancient times. Owing to  this stability, civilizational continuity in Gangetic plain remained intact like the flow of a perennial ocean/river whereas  in the northwestern territories, it was disrupted again and again by the invaders (like a seasonal torrent which flows only  for a while).

In the northern territories, on the other hand, the invaders actively participated in the formation of juvenile ethnicities  e.g. Baluchi, Sindhi, Punjabi, and Pashtun etc. In terms of Chemistry, these ethnicities are like solutions/mixtures with  distinct complexion but retaining the characteristics of their constituents. And due to geographical proximity with Gangetic  plains on one side and Central Asia the other, they borrowed influences from both sides. They are truly swing communities  that can go one way or the other depending on the priorities of the state of which they are a part as well as the thrust of  their neighboring civilizations on them.

As for Gangetic plain is concerned, the influence of its civilization has increased on these northwestern communities during  the last one-and-half century, thanks the colonialist policies of the British Raj and the ever-increasing modernization  trend. The presence of Urdu-speakers in Karachi and their emphasis on Urdu as the language of communication has further  accelerated the diffusion of Hindustani cultural influences into the northwest.

The successor states of the British Raj i.e. Pakistan and India have retained the same policy regarding language issue as  British Raj, although each has put a varying degree of explicit or implicit emphasis on religion to "assert" its distinct  identity, more so true of Pakistan. But it is a fact that the influence of Central Asia/Persia on these "swing" communities  has largely vanished making them vulnerable to the gravitational pull of Hindustani civilization. Today, a member of these  communities finds it more convenient to communicate with a Hindustani than with a "co-religioust” from the north or the west.

Overall Hindustani civilizational influence is on the rise, expanding northwest to integrate the Dards, Punjabis, Sindhis,  Siraikis, Pashtuns, and Baluchis into its mold.

Would religion be able to repel this tide?

Religion has not been so far and it is least likely to be in future. It would be a mistake to think that religion would have  any big role to play, except in the limited social-personal life, in the future global world, where individuals, with  divergent views on broader matters of life, would have to increasingly interact.. Religious assertion has been a  destabilizing factor historically and it is so more in the Central-South Asian context, threatening the very existence of the  societies involved and doomening their future as normally functioning societal units.

A more rational paradigm would have to be sought with religion forming a part of the overall culture but not directing the  political or social process to a dangerous degree. Probably, a civilizational approach centered on history, regional  lingua-franca, ethnicity, geographical proximity, etc. would have to be adopted in order to have a sense of broader identity  as well as retain distinct sub cultural individuality. Religious approach is anachronistic, impracticable, irrational, and  destructive.

So what destiny lies ahead the "swing communities"?

Especially if the Hindustani Civilization is allowed to expand farther north, what would be the consequences? More  interesting is the question what would be its farther limits in the northwest?


Well the limit could be Indus, Khyber, or less likely Hindukush but one thing is certain that it wouldn't spread beyond Indus  or Khyber or Hinudkush because these points define the southeastern extremities of Persian-Turkian World.

The options for the "swing communities" are many! For example to east-south is the Hindustani Civilization, in the north-West  is the Persian or Perso-Turkik Civilization; in the north-east is Sinic Civilization; and towards the south-west across Indus  Ocean, is the Arab Civilization. No civilization is inherently good or bad but in the coming world, isolated societies based  on ethnicity and local culture wouldn't be viable/feasible units for survival; probably, they would have to align themselves  with one of the existing civilizations.

It is for Pakistani political and intellectual elite to decide which way to go but one thing is almost certain that systems  and societies based on religious identities wouldn't be viable in the future world. Sinic Civilization could not be a choice  neither Arab Civilization could be because of a number of factors. The choices could only be Perso-Turkik (A greater Central  Asia) or Hindustani Civilizations (a greater South Asia).

Following approach could be adopted to align with the Central Asian World:

1. For the short run, make Urdu, along with English, only a language of communication, not a national language.

2. Put more and more emphasis on English in official work and education.

3. At the same time, make it compulsory for a Pakistani to learn one native language other than mother his/her mother tongue  tongue i.e. either Punjabi, or Pashto, or Sindhi, or Siraiki, or Baluchi.

4. On media, give more and more coverage to native languages.

5. At the same time introduce Dari on media and in education.

(Personally, I think transition to Dari or any other lingua-franca would be via English i.e. Urdu-to-English and then from  English to Dari etc.)

Hopefully, the above measures would significantly erode the influence of Urdu-Hindi. Then apply direct measures i.e.  introduce Dari at mass-scale. Alongside, take the following measures:

6. Rewrite history books, emphasizing geographic, ethnic, and cultural ties, Gandhara and Indus civilizations, and  Central-South Asian cultural heritage.

7. Establish cultural, political, and economic ties with Central Asian and Middle-Eastern countries. The strongest link with  Central Asia will be a common lingua franca, which would make communication among inhabitants of Pakistan and Central Asian  people possible.

8. And most importantly, make Pakistan a true federal country with secular orientations and with as much autonomy for the  federating units as possible. No strategy for a distinct Pakistani identity will be succeed until this pre-requisite is met.

Adoptation of Urdu/Hindi was a shrewd move, by Colonialists, to tie diverse people together into a single polity. In  particular, they wanted to detach the north-westerners from their Central-Middle Eastern heritage and integram them into the  Indian amalgam.

Although, the motives mostly were political but the devices employed were cultural.

Can the migration of Urdu-speakers be likened to that of Arabs outside Arab Peninsula 1400 years back, which Arabized the  present non-Peninsular Arab world? Or should we compare it to the gradual Chinization of Siberia due the increasing number of  Chinese settlers?

I mean are there other such examples to give us a better insight into the issue?

The migration of Urdu speakers to Karachi shouldn't be considered a normal event. It would have historical impacts. It  accelerated the process of Indianization of the native communities as begun by British.

And it would have future consequences.

Down the road, in a time-span of 15-20 years, when borders would become softer and the Urdu speakers in both the states would  start interacting with each other increasingly and in increasing numbers, that would open another dimension of integration  i.e. integration at demographic level.

I read somewhere that when Mongolia secured freedom back in 1920s, the father of Mongolian freedom struggle wrote a letter to  Stalin or Lenin requesting Russia for close political, strategic, and cultural ties. This was to protect Mongolia against the  Chinese cultural, political, and demographic threat. He had said, we would be swarmed by Chinese.
 


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I have a problem with Urdu because:

1. It has no historical basis in Pakistan region before the British occupation.

2. It is native to only north India and continues to welcome cultural invasion from India

3. It is the mother-tongue of only 7% Pakistanis (i.e. Muhajirs), and is resented as cultural domination of one ethnic group over the others.

4. It is almost the same language as Hindi (minus the script & loanwords), and thus Indian films, tv, music, news, etc. are brainwashing Pakistanis with Indocentrism and Hinduism

5. It has caused an identity crises in Pakistan because many people falsely perceive Indians and Pakistan as the same people because their national languages (i.e. Urdu-Hindi) are the same.

6. It is undoing (contradicting) the creation of Pakistan by forcing the distinct native peoples of Pakistan to be "Indianized"

7. It is responsible for starting the Bengali separatism leading to dismemberment of East Pakistan.

.... the list goes on and on.....

By the way, I am not against English! English should be definitely taught in schools as an optional subject for foreign student or global economy purposes. But I am against making English our national language since we are not under British occupation/slavery any more, nor are we stooges of the Anglo-Americans. Plus, with English as our national language, we will be still stuck with dilemma of identity between the English-speaking Indians and English-speaking Pakistanis!

Also, local/native languages of Pakistan should still be protected and promoted. Dari/Farsi language will just replace Urdu as our national language.. for inter-provincial communication and a stronger distinct national identity!

 

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I was looking at your website and reading through your rather passionately and persuasively argued case for switching to Farsi as Pakistan's national language. I've always had the same feeling about Urdu - that it was somehow imposed overnight and Farsi condemned to death without even consulting the intelligentsia, let alone the common people!
 
I'm myself from Kashmir and our official language and language of education had always been Farsi from the 14th century to 1906 - that's 600 years. Suddenly, the Hindu Tyrant who ruled over Kashmir changed it to Urdu because the Brits told him to do so. Even then the common people of Kashmir refused to accept this change - they continued to use Farsi (my grandfather spoke and wrote it fluently - indeed he was a poet in it!). However, once the Gangetics (and their brainwashed lackeys) invaded Kashmir they exacerbated the death of Farsi by removing it from the syllabus and teaching only Urdu. The situation now is that Farsi is completely dead from Kashmir - apart from a few Rumi and Hafiz enthusiasts.
 
I too believe that Pakistanis were robbed of their 3000-year old Farsi/Iranic heritage by this devious sleight of hand by the Gangetics (who dominated the Muslim League). I think it was these people who unduly influenced Jinnah (who himself couldn't speak Urdu - hence had no emotional ties with it). Had Jinnah been apprised of the situation fully I'm sure he would have supported Farsi. But it doesn't mean we can't change things. I think we should keep campaigning for Farsi/Dari - our first goal should be to demand its teaching in schools so that a generation of fluent Farsi speakers emerges. There should also be a new Farsi channel which can offer courses.
 
Keep up your efforts

 

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(1) In 1867 there was a conflict between Hindi and Urdu, again in 1952 there was a conflict between Bengali and Urdu, in 1972 there was a conflict between Sindhi and Urdu, almost in every conflict Urdu proved to be the language of the minority voice. No nation in Pakistan spoke Urdu, yet Urdu became the language of the Pakistan Movement. How do we explain this anomaly?

(2) Before the advent of British era Persian was official language of the sub-continent. The Sultans of Dehli were either Turks or Afghans, but Persian, which was language of the rules, became the official & cultural language of India. In fact Persian was the lingua franca of the subcontinent. Babar wrote his memoirs in his native turkish but composed poems in Persian. Shah Ismail of Persia wrote poetry in Turkish while Sultan Saleem Khan of Turki wrote poetry in Persian. Persian spread to such an extent that even noted Hindus Chandra Bhan Brahmin became poets of Persian. In fact apart from our mother tongue all our ancestors were fluent in Persian as it was the language of learning and culture.

(3) In view of the above, it is established, that Persian had great impact on our culture and society, it was this superier unifying Persian culture and language and Islam/the structure and superstructure that was the driving force in our correcting and ruling Hindus and Sikhs in the region. The Turco-Afghan catchment area was our ever-eager recruitment ground for brave hardy warriors from the mountains west of Hindustan, so whenever the polytheist Hindu raised his head, there were always Muslims warriors ready to come down and defeat the Hindu.

(4) Again our cultural and linguistic affinity with the Turco-Afghan nation was our “strategic depth” which was our “security” and an element of awe for the other-nations,Hindus and Sikhs.

(5) The English outsmarted us by disbanding Persian and hence declaring “illiterate” the Muslims of India, they thus encouraged and Urdu to further divide and vivisect us from our Turco Afghan bretheren and use us in their ensuing great game.

(6) We now became a subservient minority in British India, how cunning? Since we had been decapitated our head and heart in the trans-Indus region and a listless body in the cis-indus region.

(7) With all the above in mind, I recommend that we restore Persian again as one of our if not ‘the national language’, it will again give us the depth talked about, again we shall be a Muslim monolith and the awe of the past will cast pallor once more on Hindudom, in fact Kashmir may then become more accessible too. Our original lingua franca, Persian has the potential to aid us in ways intangible at this point in time and has the elements to metamorphose into an undefeatable cultural force of unification and integration.

 

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I like the arguments on this website to eliminate Urdu as Pakistan's national language. But I think Arabic would be better for Pakistan. I would like to share the following speech on the issue:

An address by the late H. H. Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan at a session of Motamer al-Alam-al-Islamiyya

Karachi, Pakistan

February 9, 1951

Mr. President, Brother Muslims,

I can assure you that it is not with a light heart that I address you this evening. I fully realise that what I am going to say will make me most unpopular with important sections of the population. However, I would be a traitor to Islam if I let this opportunity pass without placing before the people of this powerful and populous Islamic nation the views which I consider my duty to place before the Muslims with as many of the arguments as I am capable of using in a short address. I fear some of my arguments will mortally offend those who under totally different conditions gave so much of their life for the support of the cause which I think today has been passed by events far more important than any dreamt of in those days.

I feel the responsibility greater than any I can think of to place my views and arguments before the Muslim population of Pakistan as a whole - each and every province - while what I consider a tragic and deadly step is not yet taken and not added to the constitution of this realm.

The language of a nation is not only the expression of its own voice but the mode of interpretation with all other human societies. Before it is too late, I, an old man, implore my brothers in Islam here not to finally decide for Urdu as the national language of Pakistan but to choose Arabic. Please hear my arguments.

First my argument against Urdu. If what was the other part of the former British Empire of India had made Urdu its national language, there would have been a great argument for Pakistan doing ditto. It could have been a linguistic and important point of contact with the vast Republic of the South. I am the last man on earth to desire to break any bridge of contact and understanding between Pakistan and its immense neighbour.

Not only Urdu but even Hindustani has been replaced by Hindi throughout Bharat as the national language. The people of Bharat were perfectly justified to choose any language which the majority considered most appropriate and historically justified to be their national language. The majority there has the right to choose what was most suitable for them as the official language of the country. 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.

Was Urdu the language of the Muslims of India at the time of their glory? During the long Pathan period, Urdu was never considered the language of the rulers. Now we come to the Moghul Empire in the period of its glory. It was not the language of the educated. I defy anybody to produce a letter or any other form of writing by Emperors Aurangzeb, Shah Jehan, Jehangir, Akbar, Humayun or Babar in Urdu language. All that was spoken at the Court was Persian or occasional Turkish. I have read many of the writings of Aurangzeb and they are in beautiful Persian. Same is true if you go to the Taj Mahal and read what is written on the tombs of the Emperor and his famous consort. Persian was the court language and the language of the educated and even till the early 19th century in far Bengal, the Hindu intelligentsia wrote and used Persian and not Urdu. Up to the time of Macaulay, Persian was the language of Bengali upper classes irrespective of faith and of official documents and various Sadar Adalat.

Historical Facts

We must look historical facts in the face. Urdu became the language of Muslim India after the downfall. It is a language associated with the downfall. Its great poets are of the downfall period. The last and the greatest of them was lqbal, who with the inspiration of revival gave up Urdu poetry for Persian poetry. There was a meeting in Iqbal’s honour in London organised by men such as Professor Nicholson.

I was present at that meeting. Iqbal said that he went in for Persian poetry because it was associated with the greatness of the Islamic epoch and not with its misfortunes. Is it right that the language of the downfall period should become the national language of what we hope now is a phoenix-like national rising? All the great masters of Urdu belong to the period of greatest depression and defeat. It was then a legitimate attempt by the use of a language of Hindi derivation with Arabic and Persian words to find ways and means of better understanding with the then majority fellow countrymen. Today that vast British dependency is partitioned and succeeded by two independent and great nations and the whole world hopes that both sides now accept partition as final.

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 Sind? 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.

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? Every Muslim child of a certain economic standard learns the Quran in Arabic, whether he is from Dacca or Quetta. He learns his Alif-Bey to read the Quran. Arabic is the language of Islam. The Qur'an is in Arabic. The Prophet's hadith are in Arabic. The highest form of Islamic culture in Spain was in Arabic. Your children must learn Arabic to a certain extent always. The same is true of your West whether Sind, Baluchistan or the North. From the practical and worldly point of view, Arabic will give you, as a national language, immediate contact not only with the 40 million Arabic-speaking people of independent nations on your West, but the other 60 million more or less Arabic-speaking people who are not independent but who exist in Africa.

Right up to the Atlantic, not only in North but as far South as Nigeria and the Gold Coast, Arabic is known to the upper classes of the population. In all the Sudans, on the Nile or under French rule, Arabic is the language right up to the borders of Portuguese West Africa. In East Africa, not only in Zanzibar but amongst the Muslim population of even countries as far apart as Madagascar and Portuguese East Africa, Arabic is known. If we turn to the Far East, Arabic has prospered throughout the region inhabited by 80 million Muslims of Indonesia, Malaya and Philippines. In Ceylon, Muslim children of the well-to-do classes get some knowledge of Arabic. Is it not right and proper that this powerful Muslim State of Pakistan, with its central geographical position, its bridges between the nearly 100 million Muslims of the East and 100 million Muslims of the West - its position of the East from Philippines and the Great State of Indonesia and Malaya and Burma and then westward with the hundred millions in Africa, right up to the Atlantic, should make Arabic its national language and not isolate itself from all its neighbors and from the world of Islam with a language that was associated with the period of downfall of Muslim States. And finally, while Arabic, as a universal language of the Muslim world will unite, Urdu will divide and isolate.

Gentlemen, brothers in Islam, people of Pakistan, people of every Province, I appeal to you, before you take the final and what I unfortunately must say, I consider, the fatal jump down the precipice, please discuss and let all and every one contribute their views. Take time and think over it.

Once more I appeal for Islamic charity from those whom I may have offended and I appeal to all others to look to the facts in the face both historically and as they exist at present.

I pray that the people of this country may be guided by Divine Wisdom before they decide.

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History of Pakistan

Urdu-English imperialism and its affects on Pakistani languages

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