Census Stirs Urdu-Punjabi Languages Clash Within Pakistani Community
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Canadian and Pakistan flags. Vector illustration.
Some Toronto-based Ethnic Urdu newspapers and some Pakistani-Canadian community leaders on social media are urging Punjabi Pakistani-Canadians particularly to not mention Punjabi as their mother tongue in Census Canada 2016.
Another example of such an opinion is on Facebook, where a Pakistani Canadian wrote, “I request all Pakistani and Indian Muslims (no matter what regional language they do speak) should write Urdu as their mother tongue so that government can count total number of Pakistani and Indian Muslims living in Canada. I further urge Pakistani Christians to write their language too as Urdu in order to show solidarity with other Pakistanis.”
On the same page, a commentator responded to the above posting, “The idea of a census to gather facts. Encouraging people to write something that is not true defeats the purpose of the census. If your mother tongue is not Urdu then please do not write Urdu. To do so is not helpful.”
Another very active Pakistani Canadian wrote on Facebook, “Please put your language as Urdu,
Other words like “Punjabi” are very much deceiving for you, It benefit others but not you”
One can clearly find bigotry, betrayal and false facts imposition in above statements.
Urdu is neither a major language of Pakistani Muslims nor Indian Muslims.
On the other hand, Canada’s statistics website suggests the following punishment and offences on reporting wrongly, “for every refusal or neglect, or false answer or deception, guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to both”
Apart from this legal debate, let’s analyze the insecurities of Pakistani-Canadians in terms of not recognizing Punjabi as mother tongue of Punjabi Pakistani Canadians: First, they don’t want to count themselves with Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus. Secondly, they declare Urdu as their Muslim language.
Both assumptions are based on false historic facts.
Urdu was and is one of the prominent languages of India. Urdu is neither a major language of Pakistani Muslims nor Indian Muslims. Bengali, Punjabi, Gujrati, Marathi and Malayalam are major languages of Sub-continent Muslims. Urdu was imported to then newly born country Pakistan through Urdu speaking migrated Muslims of UP and Delhi states of India mainly.
Otherwise, Bengali, Punjabi, Sindhi and Pashtu were major languages of 1947’s Pakistan.
The state of Pakistan soon declared Urdu as state (national) language due to Urdu-speaking elite bureaucracy.
But Bengali majority Muslims refused to accept Urdu as their national language, eventually that led to breakdown of Pakistan in 1971.
However, the elites of Punjabis, second large Pakistani community neglected their heritage and imposed Urdu on themselves to take charge of vested interests in the name of Pakistani patriotism.
Unfortunately, this Urdu-Punjabi Muslim complex resulted killing of Bengali students in Dhaka who were asking recognition of their mother tongue in a rally in Dhaka on February 21, 1952. United Nations has now declared that day as International Mother Tongue Day.
As in 21st century, all civilized nations have understood the respect of Mother Tongues but some Pakistani-Canadian groups in Canada are urging Pakistanis to lie about their mothers and her language heritage in Canada Census 2016. Absolutely, it’s a shame.
Why are they so insecure?
They argue that by writing Punjabis as their mother tongue, Pakistani Canadians would lose their real count. That’s not the fact.
In Canada Census 2016, there is a question 16 in Step E: “Where was this person born?” Answering “Pakistan” would be sufficient enough to determine correct numbers of Canadians of Pakistani origin. So there is no need to lie about Mother Language from Punjabi to Urdu.
So Pakistani Canadian can certainly avoid identity crises paranoia and falsehood one nation obsession in 2016 Census.
We Canadians, Pakistanis, Indians and rest on this planet make nationhood by carrying so many identities and languages simultaneously.