Several events and protests were held in different parts of Karachi on Sunday in connection with International Mother Language Day, a worldwide observance held every February 21 to promote multilingualism and awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity.
The Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and the Punjabi Students Association (PSA) organised separate rallies outside the Karachi Press Club, where speakers called for saving mother languages to forge greater national unity and a pluralistic society.
While speaking to the participants of the rally, PkMAP Sindh President Nazir Jan Lala and central leader Abdul Rauf Lala said that mother languages are the identities of communities and reflect the cultures and traditions of the natives.
They called for the medium of instruction in schools and colleges to be in the mother languages, particularly in Pashto in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in Balochi in Balochistan. The PkMAP’s Nazir Jan said that Pakistan is a multilingual state, but the successive governments have been ignoring the importance of the mother languages as a medium of instruction in schools, which has created a sense of deprivation among the indigenous people.
A large number of PSA members from various academic institutions of the city attended the rally to mark International Mother Language Day. Speakers at the rally demanded the promotion of their mother language Punjabi and its teaching at schools.
The PSA’s leaders said that as the constitution of Pakistan also provides for the promotion of local languages, Punjab should immediately make Punjabi a medium of instruction and also make it a compulsory subject in public and private schools.
On February 21, 1952, students of the Dhaka University had held a protest to demand that Bangla be declared a national language of Pakistan because 56 per cent of the country’s population at that time was Bengali-speaking. The police had opened fire on them and killed five students.