3-day Policy Dialogue on Language begins at Higher Education Commission

Islamabad, October 25, 2016 (PPI-OT):A three-day Policy Dialogue on Language began at Higher Education Commission (HEC) Secretariat here on Tuesday. The event is being jointly organized by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Air University and HEC. Mr. Zaffar Nasrullah, Additional Secretary, Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) was chief guest in the opening ceremony. Dr. Arshad Ali, Executive Director HEC, Dr. Zaffar Qureshi, Senior Dean, Air University and Dr. Wasima Shahzad, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Air University were also present.

Addressing the conference, Mr. Zafar Nasrullah said that discussing a language is always a sensitive issue as it involves sentiments, culture and ethnicity. He said the world nations, whether Germans, French, Bengalis, or Hindus, have their own languages and they promote them in different manners. He said that Urdu and English are common languages spoken in Pakistan and Urdu, apart from being a vital language, is also an important element of national integrity. Terming ‘E-language’ a new language in the modern world, he called for adopting a pragmatic approach towards the linguistic development in the country. He appreciated HEC and Air University for their initiative and endeavours to preserve the national values.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Arshad Ali stressed the need for promoting use of Urdu in general discussions, meetings, conferences and seminars to give it a righteous status. He maintained that a practical approach is necessary to implement any policy. “We need to act in by practical terms being mentally convinced, emotionally attached and intentionally prepared to do what we think,” he emphasized.

Referring to the Supreme Court order, he said that National Language Authority, Federal Urdu University, provincial education departments and experts of languages serving in language departments of different universities should also be involved in the brainstorming process so as to benefit from their experiences. He urged the participants to look into the international trends pertaining to languages so that the young generation could keep pace with the world.

Dr. Arshad held out assurance that HEC will extend cooperation in fulfillment of research requirements and policy implementation to every move meant for promotion of the national language. Mentioning HEC initiatives for promotion of Social Sciences in the country, he said HEC Thematic Research Grant has also been increased. “The grant has been increased to 300 million rupees and promotion of languages has also a significant part in it,” he informed.

In her opening remarks earlier, Dr. Wasima Shahzad said that language is a tool to express one’s identity and represent one’s social and economic fabric, adding that it builds emotions and creates art and literature. Shedding light on the significance of national language, Urdu, she described various lingual differences and lingual movements witnessed in Pakistan in the past years.

She also dilated different factors associated with languages considering them a matter of ‘shame or pride’. “No language is uncivilized, rather all languages have their own beauty,” she asserted. She said that it is a high time to rediscover the nation and promote national language. She urged the conference participants to raise issues pertaining to the topic during the three-day activity, brainstorm problems and sort out solutions to them.

While elaborating the purpose of the conference, Dr. Zafarullah Qureshi said that the Dialogue is a move that eyes change in the entire linguistic landscape. He added that it aims at bringing linguists and experts together to contemplate over the hurdles lying in execution of the Supreme Court order of implementing Urdu as an official language. He hoped that the policy guidelines finalized in the Dialogue will prove to be helpful in devising a comprehensive national language policy to execute the SC order. He vowed that the Air University will continue to support the Government in implementing its policies.

Dr. Swathi M. Vanniarajan, Professor Psycholinguistics at San Jose State University, California, USA was the keynote speaker. He highlighted the importance of language policy for a nation. He said that language policy has far-reaching social, educational and economic impacts. He continued to say that language policy is inclusive and it gives identity to a nation, helps increasing literacy rate, develops lingual uniformity, and increases access to education. He added that many high achievers are bi or trilingual, stressing the importance of knowing more than one language.

The first and second days of the conference are reserved for Focused Group Sessions engaging national and international scholars from academia, media, law, banking, aviation, governmental organizations and other institutions to provide policy recommendations in respect of the status of English, Urdu and regional languages in Pakistan.

On the third day, recommendations and a detailed report will be drafted. This international conference is part of the ‘Emerging Trends of Researching Language, Linguistics and Literature’ held by Air University last year in which Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman, HEC had proposed conducting of a dialogue with respect to the status of English, Urdu and regional languages in Pakistan.

For more information, contact:
Aayesha Ikram
Director (Media)
Higher Education Commission, Pakistan (HEC)
Sector H-9, Islamabad
Tel: +92-51-90402404, +92-51-90402412
Email: aikram@hec.gov.pk
Website: www.hec.gov.pk