PESHAWAR: A citizen has filed a petition with the Peshawar High Court seeking orders for the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to use Urdu and Pashto in their offices and educational institutions instead of English.

Peshawar-based petitioner Mohammad Jawaid Iqbal also prayed the court to ask the respondents, including provincial chief secretary, to establish institutions for preserving and promoting Pashto, Hindko, Kohistani, Gujri, Khowar and Seraiki languages in the province.

He sought orders for the implementation of different provisions of the Constitution, especially Article 251, which provides for the use of Urdu language for official and other purposes.

The respondents in the petition are the federal government through the secretary of the Cabinet Division,secretary of the Establishment Division,Pakistan National Language Authority through its director-general, speaker of the KP Assembly, provincial chief secretary, secretaries of culture and elementary and secondary education, and chairmen of the University of Peshawar’s Pashto Academy and the department of Pashto.

The petition is filed through senior advocate Malik Mohammad Ajmal. The petitioner said Pakistan was blessed with great variety of languages and culture.

He said the mother tongue was an important factor in the development of human brain, which was recognised and accepted all over the world, so most countries provided basic education and other necessary facilities to their residents in their own languages.

He contended that mother tongue was not only a language but it’s also an expression and identity of a group of people, who had existed for thousands of years together.

The petitioner added that mother languages needed to be preserved, written, taught as well as spoken as the languages were the sum total of their ancestral evolutionary history and due to some reason Unesco declared Feb 12 to be ‘The International Mother Language Day’ in 1999.

He claimed that the majority of the residents of KP spoke Pashto followed by Hindko, Kohistani, Gujri, Khowar or Chitrali, and Seraiki as their mother tongues, but the provincial government had so far failed to adopt Pashto as the official and educational language in the province like the government of Sindh, and as the federal government in the centre to adopt Urdu in utter disregard of Article 251 of the Constitution.

The petitioner contended that the Constitutional article declared Urdu as the national language coupled with empowering the provincial assemblies to adopt main provincial language of their respective province in the government offices and educational institutions as medium of instructions.

He said it was the failure of the respondents to implement that Constitutional article, which was not only a great injustice to the people of the province but also amounted to the denial of their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The petitioner claimed that Pashto had a very rich history and had produced numerous poets and writers of international stature such as Khushal Khan Khattak, whose poetry had been translated into many international languages.

He also said the right to education had a direct link with one’s language and empirical studying throughout the world advocated the use of a child native language in instruction since it was the language the child grew up with and which was in use in his home and around him.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2021

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