The general and literary journalism in Punjabi or any other dialect of the province could not flourish because of the constant anti-Punjabi attitude of the Punjabi governments since the One-Unit set-up because, according to senior journalist Sayyed Hasan Khan, the top Punjabi bureaucrat and the first secretary-general of the Pakistan government, Chaudhary Muhammad Ali had frankly said that Pakistan would be ruled by Urdu-speaking and Punjabi-speaking people…. DAWN Magazine June 19-P8… So the Punjabi administrators were the first who shot down the Bengali students who were in a majority in the new country and who wanted to have equal status for their language at the national level. The Punjabi and Urduwallas were quite ignorant about the Hindu-Muslim conflict on Bengali language when introduced by the British in 18th century. The Punjabi and Urdu-speaking establishment unleashed propaganda against Bengali and associated it with pro-Hindu lobby which was totally wrong. So much so that even Baba-i-Urdu Maulvi Abdul Haq declared that all Pakistani languages including Bengali and Punjabi were of the non-believers and Urdu was the only Islamic language in Pakistan. This was extreme of ignorance and unsympathetic attitude of the West Pakistanis. Religion was brought which ultimately developed in the form of Pakistani Taliban. With that background the Sufi tradition of Punjabi, Sindhi, Bengali, Pushto and Kashmiri languages and literature were totally ignored. Punjabi being among the rulers were more fond of ruling the other nationalities intended to get rid of all the local languages, therefore, how they could officially give due status to Punjabi in education and communications fields? The first Punjabi monthly, 'Punjabi' could not attract the attention of the Punjab, later on One-Unit and federal governments for paid publicity. So far educational institutions were concerned their libraries were not authorised to buy magazines or newspapers, if any, in Punjabi. That means all the doors which could have been beneficial from financial point of view were closed on Punjabi publications. Punjabi was fully crushed by the Punjabis in the centre or in the province till there was fear that Bengalis were coming into power in 1971. Then started M.A Punjabi classes in the Punjab University. Those were the days when after the elections of 1970 all Punjab based political parties failed to have any significant place in the assemblies. Then the Yahya Khan's government appointed editor-in-chief of the Pakistan Times and hardcore Punjabi editor, Z.A. Suleri, who raised the question as to who will speak for Punjab? And came reply from East Pakistan “I (Mujib) will speak for Punjab”. It should have come from Bhutto to whom Punjab had given the second majority party in the National Assembly and overwhelming majority in the Punjab Assembly.
All that proves that Punjabi language and literature and the right of Punjabi child for education was not only ignored but crushed by Punjabis themselves. That situation prevailed for a very long time and even now when the Punjab government agreed to give 5 per cent of official publicity to Punjabi press, the three dailies from Lahore (Bhulekha, Lokaai and Punjabi Zaban) and Jhok from Multan are deprived of the government publicity. The Jhok is also published from Dera Ismail Khan (Pukhtunkhwa) and Karachi (Sindh) plus many of the fortnightly and monthly magazines are deprived of Punjab government publicity. Not even one per cent advertisement is being given to Punjabi/Seraiki publications. The daily Jhok of Karachi and Pukhtunkhwa is also not getting any governments advertisements.
It is a fact that all the four dailies from the Punjab are very poor, financially, but Multan is very true to its pro-Seraiki stance and the workers know how to project their cause. On the other hand, the Punjabi dailies hardly take pains to project their news from Punjab's point of view. They look hardly interested in projecting Punjabi activities in the province or its capital. They do project their personal or group activities and most probably deliberately ignore the activities of those Punjabi groups working independently. Here they behave like the bosses of Urdu print media. They are clear about the dialect used in Punjabi poetry but not clear which linguistic styles should be used in press matter i.e. in headlines and body of the news. One of the daily paper's editor-in-chief has become persona-non-grata for the Punjab information secretary, who incidentally is not a Punjabi. Over all the Punjab government is not sympathetic to Punjabi. Trinjan
A former chief minister of the Punjab, Pervaiz Elahi, on the longstanding demand of the Punjabi writers established Punjabi Complex and in his period it started publication of a monthly literary magazine, , which after a long time now being published after every two or three months. It has so far not been honoured with any government publicity. Its latest issue (of May and June) is spread over 120 pages having 7 articles including sub-standard matter by Sharif Sabir and the late Fazal Elahi Bahar with two good stories by Sofia Bedar and Ain Seen Muslim and poetry by Asif Saqib, Salman Saeed, Rashed Hasan Rana, Saleem Tahir, Ghulam Farid Shaukat, Zafar Iqbal and Talib Jatoi.
Monthly Pukheroo, a beautiful monthly magazine for children was published for ten years. Its circulation was certified but it was never entertained by the Punjab government. After ten years its publication was virtually stopped. Now the Punjabi Baal Adab Board responsible for the publication of the magazine has been given government grants and the publication of the magazine has been renewed. This 64-page children magazine must be made more readable for Lehnda-speaking majority of the Punjabis as is the case with Punjabi poetry and folk songs etc. Insistence on imposing central dialect is very dangerous for the cause of Punjabi.
Monthly Lehran started its publication from March 1965 with Akhtar Husain as its founding editor and proprietor and continued the mission till his death in the current year. The paper is being edited and published by his son Irfan and daughter Dr Kulsoom Akhtar. The July issue includes contribution by Saleem Pasha, Haroon Adeem, Khalid Armaan, Tariq Gujjar, Babar Javed Dar, Masud Chaudhry, Azhar Muneer, Rana Muhammad Ashraf Aarpan, Shafiq Qureshi, Dr Darshan Singh Aashat, Anwar Feroz, Khawar Majeed Mailsi and Dr Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal. This issue has no government advertisement.
Monthly Punjabi is continuation of the first ever Pakistani Punjabi monthly edited and published by the late Dr Faqir Muhammad Faqir now produced by his grandson Prof Muhammad Junaid Akram. This issue includes the full issue of November, 1951 to which contributors were; Sufi Tabassum, Hameed Nizami, Prof Khwaja Dil Muhammad, Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan, Maulana Abdul Majeed Salik, Akbar Lahori, Ustad Karam Amritsari, Maula Bukhsh Kushta, Saeen Naqad, Prof Mirza Maqbool Badakhshani. It has no government advertisement in its latest issue.
Monthly Likhari started its publication in a series during Ziaul Haq's period and was regularly published but its founder editor the late Iqbal Zakhmi and now by his son Dr Arshad Iqbal Arshad, a teacher of Punjabi at college level. Its circulation is also certified by ABC but no government advertisement. Another regular monthly Puncham is one of the prestigious literary monthlies which has never attracted the attention of the Punjab or the federal government. Same is the case with fortnightly Ravel which was founded by one of the activists Ilyas Ghumman. None of the provincial or federal governments were kind enough to oblige this paper.
Some of the Urdu literary magazines also include Punjabi section and one of such prestigious magazines is Takhleeq being edited by Azhar Javed, a Punjabi short story writer, but the magazine could never earn the favour of the Punjab government. Though not having permission from the Punjab government, a regular monthly is being published by the Punjabi Adabi Sangat tilted Suneha (the message), which recently published a special issue on Bhagat Singh. How it could find favour with the Punjab government which still refuses to accept Bhagat Singh as a Punjabi hero recognised as such on international level and who had also earned a supporting statement from Muhammad Ali Jinnah. A quarterly Punjabi Adab may revive its monthly status in near future and emerge as the representative of the Punjabi movements. One should not hope that information wing of the Punjab government will consider its case within its background for more than 40 years.
That is what Punjabi journalism is facing during the regime of the politicians, capitalists and traders from Lahore!