Views on the issue of national language in Pakistan
Contributed by various authors via e-mail/forums
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
"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.
Why is Dari/Farsi a better choice than Urdu for Pakistan's national
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
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
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
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.
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:
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
I wonder if they had to Persianized Khariboli, called Hindustani, an
attempt, which failed, why didn't they adopt Persian altogether?
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
5. It is the main vehicle for disseminating Hindustani Culture outside
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.
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
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!!!
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
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.
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."
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
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:
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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!!!
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
Natives on the other hand remained tied to the stagnant agrarian social
setup which greatly inhibits initiative and activism within the
> 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,
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
> 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
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
(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
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.
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
I think the future World would be increasingly organized along
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
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
Bollywood is producing films in Urindi ( Urdu-Hindi ) because the vast
market from Khyber to Dhaka enhances the profit margin for their
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
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
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
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
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
Following approach could be adopted to align with the Central Asian
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
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
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 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.
I have a problem with Urdu because:
1. It has no historical basis in Pakistan region before the British
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
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
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
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.
(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.
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
An address by the late H. H. Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah
Aga Khan at a session of Motamer al-Alam-al-Islamiyya
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
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.
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
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
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.
History of Pakistan
Urdu-English imperialism and its affects on Pakistani languages
More articles of interest
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