MINGORA: Speakers at a seminar here on Sunday urged the government to take concrete steps for promotion of regional languages.

The speakers also called upon journalists to play their role in preserving the fast fading languages in the rural areas of the country. The seminar titled “Lesser known languages of Swat: challenges and opportunities” was organised by Forum for Languages Initiative (FLI). Culture activists, linguists and journalists attended the seminar.

“There are 30 disadvantaged languages in northern Pakistan,” said Mohammad Zaman Sagar, a representative of FLI. He said that FLI was currently working on 14 of those languages. 

“Our goal is to preserve oral traditions, poetry, proverbs, folk tales and other aspects of cultural heritage and improve reading and writing skills through mother tongue-based literacy programmes and develop bilingual and trilingual dictionaries and glossaries,” said Mr Sagar.

Zubair Torwali, chairman of Idara Barai Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT), said on the occasion that languages in Swat were faced with identity crisis. “Torwali and Gawari are the indigenous and original languages of Swat but these are not given importance by the state,” he added.

Mr Torwali said that a language died automatically if it had no written script. He said that globalisation was also a threat to local languages. He said that government should take concrete steps to establish a recognised script for smaller languages and preserve those by documenting.

Speakers call upon journalists to play role in preserving fading languages in rural areas

Mr Torwali said that the government must work for promotion of regional languages. For the purpose, it should set up an active and functional language promotion authority, he added.

Enayatullah Faizi, another speaker, said that language was one of the many signs of nature. He said that active role of media organisations was must to preserve regional languages.

“Media has the power to attract attention of public and motivate the state to promote regional languages,” he said, adding that researchers and language activists must sit together and interact with each other to preserve the dying languages.

Besides Pashto, Torwali, Gawri, Gojri, Ushojo and Badeshi are also spoken in Swat. 

AWARD: Hadiqa Bashir, a young girl from Swat valley, the hometown of Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, received the third Mohammad Ali Humanitarian Award for working against forced and early marriages in the country.

Her relatives told Dawn here on Saturday that Hadiqa received the award from Dr Jennifer Clinton, the president of Global Ties USA. Four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Janet Evans hosted the event. Ms Bashir became the youngest girl to receive the award, they said.

Hadiqa has stopped several child marriages in Swat. The award giving ceremony took place in Louisville, Kentucky.

Speaking on the occasion Hadiqa Bashir said that she was honoured to receive the award. “The award reaffirms our conviction that with truth, courage and determination as our weapons, my country, Pakistan will be liberated from every type of injustice and violence. I did not make the journey here alone. Numerous people have supported me,” she added.

Published in Dawn, September 21st , 2015

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play