QUETTA: The Balochi Labzanki Deewan, a literary body, held a function about the significance of regional languages to mark International Mother Language Day on Tuesday.

Former chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch and Baloch, Pashtun, Punjabi and Hazara writers attended the function.

Chairman of the Balochi Labzanki Deewan Yar Jan Badini said they had been holding functions for over two decades for the promotion of regional languages, but no one had paid attention to their importance despite the fact that they were the identity of people.

“The Balochi language is 5,000 years old, and Mehrgarh, which is our civilisation and king of all civilisations is 11,000 years old but it is on the verge of extinction because of our negligence,” he said.

“Except in Makran division, we hardly have Balochi writers. The government of Pakistan needs to give the national status to Balochi and other regional languages for their development.”

Unesco chief in Balochistan Qaiser Jamali said the UN organisation was committed to ‘protecting, preserving and promoting’ languages all over the world.

As for Balochistan, he said, they were giving priority to regional languages and also highlighting the economic aspect of languages. He called for ‘diversity’ in language and culture for their advancement.

Dr Abdul Malik said he had done whatever he could for the development of regional languages of Balochistan during his tenure.

He said he legislated and commenced the teaching of schoolchildren in their mother languages and blamed the linguists for not playing their part for the success of the initiative, while confessing that it had been launched in a hurry.

“During the passage of the 18th Amendment, I wanted to give constitutional protection to all languages, which are to me all national. I could not get it done despite the fact that Pakistan is a multilingual country,” he regretted.

Former education secretary and novelist Munir Ahmad Badini said: “Our education system is facing three major problems over language, science and mathematics. When you teach children till grade five in their mother tongues, they can better express themselves and excel in other fields, too.”

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2017

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