Muhammad Mujahid Syed
JEDDAH — Faiz Ahmad Faiz, 20th century’s famous Pakistani Urdu poet, commenting on the poetry collection of Iftikhar Arif, said: “This book (Mehr-e-Doneem by Iftikhar Arif) is enough to confer a reliable place for him (Iftikhar Arif) in the modern Urdu literature.”
This statement shows that in his prime youth Arif was not only able to attract attention of marvelous Urdu poets of his time but was also able to carve out a special place in the realm of modern Urdu poetry.
Arif was in the Kingdom to participate in the glamorous All Pakistan Mushairah organized by the Consulate General Pakistan, Jeddah on Friday at Pakistan International School – English Section (PISJ-ES).
This Mushairah was part of the Pakistan Day celebrations. Pakistan Ambassador Manzoor ul Haq and Consul General Aftab Khokhar were chief guests of the Mushairah.
Arif, who chaired the event, is the president of ECO Cultural Institute and had already been conferred with prestigious Pakistani awards Sitara-Imtiaz, Hilal-e-Imtiaz. In an interview to Saudi Gazette Arif highlighted the latest developments of Urdu language.
Without mincing words he threw light on the difficult terrain too through that Urdu is passing in Pakistan.
“Qaide Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the most trustworthy patron and protector of Urdu language after the creation of Pakistan. His mother tongue was Gujarati and the step language was English. When the question of the place for Urdu language arose, the founder of Pakistan raised his powerful voice in the support of Urdu. We don’t have any other such example in our history. Famous Urdu poet and the Islamic thinker Allama Iqbal, (whose ancestors were Kashmiri Brahmins) and whose mother tongue was Panjabi, too was very eloquent in supporting Urdu when he said, “Regarding Urdu my partisanship is clear like my religion.”
Arif lamented that “the politicians who inherited this glorious tradition were not against Urdu but we cannot deny the fact that they were not very serious in the promotion of Urdu as the national language of Pakistan. It will not be wrong to say that they lacked political will in continuing Urdu as official language of (Pakistan) government. In my opinion languages are not imposed from outside, they penetrate in the foundations of society automatically. The people own and adopt them. The birth of Urdu language in the Indian Subcontinent bears testimony to the fact of a great dialogue between cultures.”
Shedding sufficient light on the history of Urdu language and its present condition, he said: “At the time of advent of Muslims in the Subcontinent, local ancient languages had already flourished with their cultural traditions. Sindhi, Punjabi, Bengali and Pashto were more ancient than Urdu but the gradual union of two cultures paved the way for a dialogue. This resulted in the emergence of Urdu language and a great composite culture. The emperors and mendicants equally used this language to serve people. Now, Urdu has become lingua franca of Asian people in the Middle East, Europe and America.”
He added: “In Mumbai, Maharashtra people from every Indian province use Urdu as a lingua franca. Maharashtra is famous for its Urdu medium schools and their excellent syllabus. These schools get a large bulk of government’s grant too. In Baloschistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s far flung tribal areas Urdu is the language of communication between people from the different Pakistani cities. In the Subcontinent, especially in Madrasas most of the syllabus is taught in Urdu language. Urdu is used for the religious and political debates. It’s popular in print and electronic media. For their huge success films and serials depend on Urdu dialogues and songs. But unfortunately in both countries (India and Pakistan) what Lord Macaulay’s followers were unable to do, we did it. We accepted linguistic imperialism. In Africa, Australia, America and even Europe (that’s the home of many native ancient languages) other languages have suffered most at the hands of English. Urdu too is suffering from this harmful global menace.”
But when Arif looked at the condition of the decline of English language due to globalization he accepted the fact that due to the information revolution and the popularity of Internet, English too has lost its some salient features it was famous for. “In India and Pakistan Hinglish and Urduish have become quite popular.”
“I am not against English as an international language. English is dealing with the modern knowledge and different sciences, we cannot overlook it. But the linguistic imperialism is dangerous. It’s changing our culture. Many values are at stake and the cost is very high. This linguistic imperialism has endangered not only our language but also our cultural identity,” he added.
Originaly printed http://saudigazette.com.sa/