LAHORE: Hundreds of people from different walks of life on Sunday held rallies to mark the International Mother Language Day while demanding the government make Punjabi compulsory for primary classes and optional subject for others.
The rallies were organised by civil society, political parties, Pakistan Punjabi Adbi Board (PPAB) and Punjab Parhao Tehreek while representatives of Punjab Lok Sangat, Punjabi Sangat, Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party, Punjabi Parhao Tehreek, Bonded Labour Liberation Front, All Pakistan Trade Union Federation, Haqooq-e-Khalq Movement, Progressive Students Collective, Punjab Teachers Union, Punjab Professors and Lecturer Association and others were also present. The rallies moved from the Court Road and the Lahore Press Club and concluded at Charing Cross after passing through The Mall and Egerton Road.
The participants were carrying placards and banners inscribed with slogans to demand from the government to pass Punjabi Language Bill from the assembly.
PPP senator Aitzaz Ahsan addressing the marchers at Charing Cross in Punjabi, said all the developed nations were giving education to their children in their mother tongues and no one could progress without following one’s culture and native language.
“Our successive governments had imposed a foreign language as an official language and it resulted in poor academic growth of our students and they could not progress in any field,” he said.
Ahsan said our children first have to understand one thing in Punjabi, later they would translate it into Urdu and lastly in English and they took studies as a burden.
“We could not do any wonders in the world and were using every invention and discovery of the world without playing our role in it,” he said while adding we did not even own Dr Abdus Salam who won the Nobel Prize.
He demanded from the government to make Punjabi official language in the province.
Pakistan Bar Council President Abid Saqi said they were demanding implementation of Article 251 of the constitution and the provincial government should play its role in starting primary education in the native language.
Other participants who address the rally, including Baba Najmi and Afzal Sahir, said Pakistan did not accept different mother languages as official languages. “After the approval of the 1973 constitution, Sindh was the only province to accept Sindhi as official language and after 40 years Pashtu was also accepted as the official language but Punjabi was given the status in 2013”.
They said Balochistan had done well and given eight languages status as official languages.
The participants in the rally raised slogans of Punjab Di Boli Punjabi, Sada Haq Aithay Rakh, Kamyabi Di Pehli Manzal, Sirf Maa Boli Vich Taleem etc. They criticised the government for ignoring the issue of Punjabi language.
They were of the view that Punjabi was merely an optional subject at the Intermediate and BA levels, indicating that the subject was being taught without its basic teaching in schools. Many singers, including Fazal Jatt, sang songs.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2021