At the time of partition of India in 1947, we inherited a trilingual society in Punjab. English enjoyed the supreme position of official language, while Urdu along with English was made language of learning, and Punjabi which was the language of the soil was allowed only as a spoken language of Punjabis. People accepted this as a circumstantial oppression but situation altogether changed after partition when Punjabi was discarded outright.
Within a span of two decades trilingual character of our society changed into bilingual, leaving Punjabi at the mercy of highly anti-Punjabi mindset ruling elite and instinctively hostile bureaucracy. This is the tragedy of Punjabi language which is the language of majority in Pakistan. It is the mother tongue of more than 100 million people of Punjab and is spoken as first language by 60% and easily understood by almost 80% of Pakistanis. It is the 12th most spoken language in the world, 11th most spoken language in India, 4th most spoken language in Canada, 3rd most spoken language in South Asia and 2nd most spoken language in Britain. It is a complete standardised language owned by approximately 150 million people around the globe.
I request the government of Pakistan and Punjab to take positive steps for the protection of our heritage and the language of our forefathers. Ban on Punjabi as a medium of instruction and a compulsory subject at primary level must be lifted. Punjabi along with Pashto, Balochi and Sindhi should be declared national languages of Pakistan. It is time to learn from history and never forget that it was the language issue which sowed the seeds of cessation in the minds of Bengalis 62 years ago. The Mother Language Day is celebrated worldwide to commemorate the sacrifices of those Bengali students who laid their lives for their mother tongue.
TARIQ MAHMUD JATALA