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"Why do we disown Nanak?" Guru Ji's contribution t

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Guest Punjabi Nationalist

Article from DAWN. Guru Nanak's contribution to Punjabi.


Why do we disown him?


Both India and Pakistan always try to hurt each other. They try their utmost to alienate each other and whatever they do, it further embitters relations between the two countries and one of the dividing factors is language or languages.

It was the question of Hindi, Hindustani or Urdu script which was religiously guarded by each community which after independence damaged Pakistan more than India. Because we had no respect for any scripts which started from the left to the right including that of Bengali. Therefore, the first clash between East and West Pakistan, led to the blood-soaked division of the Quaid's country in this month of December.

There is a very minor difference between Urdu and Sindhi scripts. Most of the Sindhi educated population can read and write Urdu but most Urdu-knowing Mohajirs, Punjabis, Pakhtuns who have settled in Sindh do not read or write the Sindhi script. Ticklish questions about language problems in Pakistan have never been faced squarely and honestly which caused us heavy losses not only internally but also externally.

Our foreign policy demanded that we should have won over neighbours or the bordering areas of those countries through all available means. The issue of Pushto has become very significant with reference to the present state of affairs in Afghanistan. Had the Pushto language been given a proper place in Pushto-speaking areas of the NWFP and Balochistan, things would have been quite different and most probably in favour of Pakistan because the NWFP even Balochsitan were much far ahead of the Pushto-speaking areas of Afghanistan.

Next comes the Punjabi language. To a very large extent, Muslim and the Hindu Punjabis had practically disowned Punjabi while the Sikhs had adopted it as their religious language in the Gurmukhi script. Incidentally, by far the richest contribution to Punjabi literature was made by the Muslims. After independence, the Delhi government wanted that the Sikhs should distance themselves from their language and script but by that time, according to their leader, the late Master Tarta Singh, the Sikhs had seen through the game of the All-India Congress and they began demanding a separate Punjabi state.

This was the time when the Pakistan establishment should have moved in the right linguistic and cultural direction. But that was not to be (this was done by West Bengal with the blessings of the central Indian government). It was a sort of eye-opener for our Establishment. On the other hand, according to Abdul Hafeez Kardar, the late skipper of the Pakistan cricket team, our Establishment wanted that Rabindra Nath Tagore should not be made part of Bengali language curriculum taught in East Pakistan's colleges and universities. How far this policy has damaged the country is to be judged by our educationists and policy-makers.

To observe the 532nd death anniversary of the founder of their religion, Guru Nanak, Sikh devotees are here and we are trying to project their visit in the perspective of Indian atrocities committed on the Sikh community in occupied Kashmir, East Punjab and elsewhere. Reference is being made to the Delhi massacre after the murder of Mrs Indira Gandhi.

The Sikh visitors talked about Khalistan as their ultimate goal. We may not subscribe to their political views but what we project in respect of their visit should be written in their own script so that the Sikhs feel that their views are being closely watched by neighbouring people. But it is strange that even their news relating to their visits to their sacred places like Nankana Sahib, Sacha Soda (Chuharkana), Hasan Abdal, etc. are presented on PTV without Gurmukhi titles.

Qazi Javed, a columnist and the Lahore director of the Pakistan Academy of Letters, at an Iftar party hosted by M.R. Shahid for Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, has pertinently asked why no literary function is arranged on the death or anniversary of Nanak who is the second greatest poet of Punjabi after Baba Farid of Pakpattan. He first introduced many genres like the kafi, the si-harfi, var, etc., in Punjabi. With such a valuable contribution, his literary work has not been included in the curriculum for the master's degree by the Punjab University.

His biographies called Sakhis have been written in Punjabi prose and they are the earliest examples of Punjabi prose written in the 16th and 17th centuries. But those Sakhis (also published in the Persian script before partition) have found no place in the Punjabi Department of the Oriental College, Lahore, while literature created by the Muslims during the last eight centuries has been included at the highest level by almost all universities of East Punjab and Delhi. They have an exclusive paper on Pakistani Punjabi literature at the master's level. They also try that their students should also learn the Persian script which they call Shamukhi.

Nanak was born in Pakistan (Nankana Sahib) and also died in Pakistan (Kartarpura located on the right bank of the river Ravi in Narowal district). The question that needs to be asked here is: why do we disown Nanak? -STM

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