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Gandhara Hindko Board observes Mother Tongue Day

February 22nd, 2006 (10:37 am)

Govt urged to patronize all languages of NWFP

By Aftab Ahmad

PESHAWAR: The government should patronize all the languages spoken in the NWFP and make arrangements for imparting primary education to children in their respective mother tongues.

This demand was made at a seminar arranged by the literary, cultural and social welfare organization, Gandhara Hindko Board, in collaboration with the Frontier Languages Institute at the Archives Hall to mark the International Mother Tongue Day (February 21) here on Tuesday.

A member of the NWFP Assembly from Swat and speaker of a lesser-known Gauwri language, Malik Ameerzada, was the chief guest on the occasion while an eminent Hindko writer, poet and research scholar, Khatir Ghaznavi (Pride of Performance) presided over the event.

Representatives from 19 different languages of the NWFP – Pushto, Hindko, Kohwar, Oshojo, Palula, Klasha, Goujri, Urmuri, Batairi, Domaki, Dumaili, Balti, Wakhi, Waneesi, Pahari, Sheena, Torwali, Gawri and Pashai -- ­­­­­turned up at the event to stresses importance of their respective languages in the light of Mother Tongue Day and urged the government to give proper attention to all the 24 languages native to NWFP, known in history as Gandhara.

Those who spoke on the occasion included Malik Ameerzada, Irshad Ahmad Siddiqui, Abdussalam Noori, Prefessor Dr Zahoor Ahmad Awan (Tamgha-e-Imtiaz), Shamsur Rehman Shams, Khwaja Yawer Naseer, Dr Salahuddin, Masoom Shah Masoom, Ismail Awan, Sabir Hussain Imadad, Sardar Azam and Mudassar Ahmad.

The Secretary for the Gandhara Hindko Board, Mohammad Ziauddin, and a researcher at the Frontier Languages Institute, Inamullah Torwal jointly conducted the progarmme which is held every year.

In his welcome address, Mohammad Ziauddin said that all the languages were an asset to humanity and deserved due respect and attention. “It is lamentable to note that smaller languages of NWFP have always faced official neglect by the successive governments. This injustice needs to be done away with by extending fair treatment to all the languages,” he added while requesting the different delegates present in the hall to work with dedication for their mother languages till the time the government realizes it duty and come forward to do the needful.

Mr Inamullah Torwal talked of the steps the United Nations Educational and Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was taking for saving the endangered languages. He said this year theme of the UNESCO for the Mother Tongue Day was “Cyber space and language”. He disclosed that there were 6000 languages in the world, but only a handful had monopoly over the Internet (Cyber space), which, he believed, was leading to cultural tension and inequality. “This can be contained by making arrangements to make the lesser known languages accessible to Internet so that the works of scholars of these languages become accessible to a maximum number of people,” he argued.

The event was well-organized. The Archives Hall was decorated with placards inscribed with greetings in 19 languages of NWFP. The participants and organizers also held a walk to highlight the importance of the day. The presence of children with placards attracted the attention of all in the walk that started from the Archives Hall and ended at the Governor’s House.

It is worth mentioning here that the NWFP is a multilingual and multicultural province which is home to 24 languages. The Gandhara Hindko Board is an active body that has been working since 1993 for the preservation and promotion of Hindko which is the second main language of the province.

The board has to its credit 15 Hindko books on different genres of the Hindko literature, including a voluminous Hindko dictionary. It has a broad-minded approach to promotion of Hindko language by stressing respect for and due attention to all the languages and cultures native to Gandhara – NWFP.

With current membership standing at 462, the board has an outreach to all the areas where Hindko language is spoken – Peshawar, Hazara, Kohat, Nowshera (NWFP), Potohar (Northern Punjab) and Azad Kashmir.

The board has already launched a Hindko literary magazine “Hindkowan” in the year 2004 for wider dissemination of the work being done for the Hindko language and Hindkowan culture. The Hindko journal has produced and promoted a new breed of Hindko writers, apart from digging out and brining into fine print the literary masterpieces by the classic Hindko poets.

The work on the versified Hindko translation of the Holy Quran is in final shape. The organization has also produced a Hindko audio cassette containing 10 folk songs.

The board has revived the tradition of open-air Hindko mushairas (poetry reading session) which used to be a common feature of the Walled City of Peshawar in the early part of the 20th century.

a snapshot of the event: http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/2710/motherlanguageday7ja.jpg