LAHORE: A large demonstration featuring hundreds of promoters of linguistics from Punjabi Adabi Board, other like-minded organisations, lawyers, professors, teachers, political activists, labourers and, last but not the least, poets and folk artistes was staged in front of the Lahore Press Club in connection with the International Mother Language Day.

The participants demanded that Punjabi language be made a compulsory subject in curriculum from primary level onwards.

Organised by the Punjabi Adabi Board, the demonstration included many civil society and trade union organisations such as the All Pakistan Trade Union Federation, the National Labour Federation, the National Trade Union Federation, the Railway Workers Union, the Professors and Lawyers Associations, Punjab Teachers Association, Lahore High Court Bar Association, Communist Mazdoor Kisan Party, Punjab Lok Rahs, Punjabi Parchar, Punjabi Adabi Sangat and Halqa Arbab-i-Zauq.

This year there was a visible participation from political parties also, as representatives of the PPP, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-i-Islami and PML-Q spoke their mind.

A number of groups working for the promotion of Punjabi language participated in the demonstration from Sahiwal, Pakpattan, Okara, Kasur, Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Jhang and Chiniot.

Till Thursday, it had been decided that a procession would be taken out from Nasir Bagh to the Punjab Assembly but the city administration turned it into a demonstration owing to security concerns.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjabi Adabi Board President Mushtaq Soofi came hard on the government over the PML-N’s refusal to participate in the demonstration. He said the struggle for the mother language, Punjabi, had gone a step ahead as many political parties had participated in the demonstration.

He said the PML-N refused to participate on the pretext that if it did, it would be considered chauvinist. He also censured the city administration for informing them just a day ago that they could not walk from Nasir Bagh to the assembly.

Naseer Ahmed, president of the PPP’s Human Rights Wing, while addressing on the occasion said there was no political party that came into power without the votes of Punjabis. He urged political parties to strive for induction of Punjabi as a compulsory subject from primary to graduation.

Yousaf Punjabi from the Punjabi Sangat said had Sufi poetry of Punjab been part of syllabi, tolerance level in society would have been higher. Anwarul Haq from Green Building Technology said a long and tedious struggle was needed to regain the lost status of Punjabi.

Taimur Rahman of Lal the Band said the reason behind separation of East Pakistan was also non-recognition of Bengali language. He said all languages should be given equal status.

PML-Q leader and former education minister Imran Masood said his party during its tenure strived hard for the promotion of Punjabi language, a big proof of which was the establishment of Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2015

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