Monday, October 13, 2008

Myths of Urdu Speaking Community.

Dear Syed Turkman Sahab,

In many of your mails you were read as Sufi and follower of Tareeqa [sufism]. Lying is the second nature of Sufis. You say Punjabis exploited all and sundry since the last 60 years. They were not alone please don’t exclude those members of the Urdu Speaking community who were ICS and later CSP officers and served at least 2 Illegal quasi Martial Law governments of Ghulam Mohammad, and Iskander Mirza and 2 Pure Martial Law Regimes of General Ayub and Yahya. To quote the so-called Reformist Sir Syed Ahmed Khan [extremely prejudiced Dehli Wala toward fellow Bengalis]. Still the so-called representative of Urdu speaking community i.e. the Altaf Hussain and MQM were the strong supporter of Military Regime since 1999 directly and indirectly supporting the Military Establishment since 1988 by sabotaging every Civilian government. Do you think all those who are in Military regime are from UP, Dehli and Central Provinces.


But a great source of Pakistani dislike of Bengalis can be traced to the Aligarh leader Sir Syed Ahmed Khan whose furious anti-Bengali speeches are some of the most racist utterances made by anyone. In fact, the Upper India Landowners Association which he founded with the Hindu Raja of Rampur shows how religion was weak compared to linguistic ethnic rivalry. ["Emergence of Indian nationalism" by Anil Seal] For Further Reading : Alamiya-e-Tareekh by Dr Mubarak Ali.


A glimpse from the past:

Urdu speaking immigrants moved to East Pakistan too, but though vastly outnumbered by Bengalis, still managed to capture most of the plum jobs and businesses. Now, I would dare to go out on a limb. Urdu speaking people of Delhi, UP, and Bihar have an inborn sense of superiority to others. They lived in the cradle of so-called civilization inheritors of Mughal splendor in culture and looked down upon all comers as inferiors in all respects. They treated Bengalis, Punjabis, Pathans, Sindhis, and Baluchi nationalities native to Pakistan as a sophisticate would a “hilly billy”.

This superiority complex ran across religious lines- Hindus of North India harbor the same illusions as Muslims do. (I was born in a Muslim Family of UP so I have a license to speak frankly). Curiously enough, for many years, all Non-Urdu speaking people meekly accepted the claim to superiority.

If you have any doubt over my above mentioned claim read Murder of History by Prof K K Aziz published by Vanguard Press Lahore.

More eye openers!


"Most of the textbooks, on both school and college levels, persist in preaching that the United Provinces was the home of Pakistani culture. The clear message is that Pakistanis should accept this culture; but nobody explains what it is, beyond the Urdu language. In practice this culture is being imposed upon us through the very effective means of the textbook. This raises many problems and some issues of substantial importance:

* The fact is that the United Provinces was the home of a decadent, brittle, pale, nostalgic reflection of the Moghul culture that had passed away, not a developing, strong, healthy, indigenous culture. It was owned only by the upper crust of the society; the home-grown, common-man, _bhayya_, way of life was looked at contemptuously by the 'cultured' classes. The crust was hard, and did not contain much within it. This superficially aristocratic culture was not shared by any class in the rest of Muslim India, nor would it have been acceptable to Pakistanis unless it were imposed upon them through state machinery.

* The influence of the MAO College and the Aligarh University has been grossly exaggerated. Only a handful of students from other provinces attended them. There were several other educational institutions situated nearer home and producing more graduates...

* This culture had a very strong element of loyalty to the British and, by extension, to any master or liege lord. In this respect, and in no other, it shared the value system of the Punjabi culture. But other cultures of India and later in Pakistan were less inclined to call their political masters their _mai bap_ (mother and father).

* The political culture of the United Provinces was littered with anti-Muslim League and anti-Pakistan movement spokesmen and organisations, and this did not endear it to Pakistanis...

* The principal, central and vitalizing force in the U.P. culture was its language, Urdu. The unifying advantage of Urdu in Pakistan has been offset by four serious developments:

- strangling of the Punjabi language, and aaccelerating its disappearance;

- obstructing the development of Baluchi ass a written language;

- creating great resentment in Sind; and – driving east Pakistanis out of Pakistan.

Has the price paid been commensurate with the convenience of having a so-called 'national' language?"

(From: KK Aziz, 1993, The Murder Of History: A Critique of History textbooks used in Pakistan, Vanguard Books, Lahore, 278pp.)

Taken from Dr. K.K. Aziz , The Murder of History in Pakistan.


Culture and Inferiority Complex

The double claim that the people of the UP were in the forefront of the struggle for the creation of Pakistan and that their culture is the source or foster-mother of Pakistani culture has produced problems of identity for the indigenous population of Pakistan. Space does not permit a full treament of its impact othe various provinces taken sperarately. I will concentrate on the Punjab as a case-study because I am more familiar with it.

The mind of the largest province of the country has been put to total confusion by the following factors born of the claim:

1: An inferiority complex of the severest kind has struck the Punjabi. he is told that his own role in the freedom movement was marginal and inappreciable. For many years he had supported the Unionist Party, which was an enemy of the Muslim League and an obstacle in the path to leading to independence, he voted for the partition only in 1946. Therefore he was a latecommer to the ranks of the patriots. He was a laggard, and should be made aware of it. His own culture is also inferior, and the better parts of it borrowed from Delhi and United Provinces. He sided with the Urdas in rejecting the Bengali as a national language; when the concession was made with great reluctance, he mourned it loudly in company with them. In doing so, he made bitter enemies of the people of East Pakistan, but he did not care.

2: By accepting Urdu in his schools, literature, journalism and everyday life he let down his own toungue be thrown on the dunghill of history. By supporting the cause of Urdu in Sind he alienated the Sindhis who then bracketed him with the Urda usurpers of their province.

3: By failing to challenge the Urda claim of the superiority of the U.P. culture he made a confession that he had no culture of his own, thus disowning his own past and its contribution to this life.

4: In politics he was very happy to make common cause with the Urda-dominated federal government in

(a) creatin the ONE Unit of West Pakistan, thus angering Sind, Balushistan and NWFP.

(b) allowing the identity of his own province to be lost, and

(c) lending support to the rest of of West Pakistan in opposition to East Pakistan (the raison d'etre of the One Unit scheme). By thus playing into Urda hands, he made two grievous mistakes: he made the Bengalis look at him as their chief enemy, and, as the largest component of the West Pakistan province, dominated the smaler partners and alienated their sympathies. In sum he made himself thoroughly un-popular with every other group in the country to please the tiny 3 percent (1950s' figure) Urda population.

5: By continuing to concentrate on producing Urdu literature, he denied the Punjabi language a chance to revive itself, thus sending a message to the urduas that he was at one with them in rejecting Punjabi as a respectable language and considering Punjabi literature as something unworthy and low.

This self-abnegation is probably unique in the history of the nations anywhere. but was it self-abnegation? I can see no element of denial or self-sacrifice in it. The Punjabi did what he did with pleasure, confidence, pride, almost glee. He went further than any other Pakistani group in adopting Urdu as his everday spoken tongue, even at his home. There was no compulsion for the change. The pathan student studied through Urdu-medium but spoke Pashto at home. The Sindhi went to Urdu-medium schools but stuck to own language in his domestic and social life. The argument that Urdu-medium schooling results in Urdu speaking home life is a false one. The Punjabi had gone to Urdu-medium schools since 1855 but had not made hismelf Urdu-speaking. The trend started in the 1960's under political pressure from Karachi and Islamabad and because the anti-Bengali feeling in which the Punjabi decided to support the Urdas. Yet his decision was made of his own free will and without demur.

He chose Urdu because he was convinced that his own culture was either inferior or non-existent. The propaganda which had its beginnings with M. Hussain Azad and Altaf Hali and others brought to the Punjab by the British to found the province's school system now bore fruit. A century of insidious effort had not gone waste. But by thus flattering the Urdas the Punjabi intelligentsia ensured the demise of their native tongue which their fathers and forefathers had spoken for over a thousand years.

The Punjabi was happy at the thought that, owning Urdu as his language, he added one more weapon to his armory of domination over the rest of Pakistan. He already enjoyed an unalterable majority in the population of the country, an overbearing majority in the national army, and an unchallengeable majority in the civil service. With the urdu language in his pocket his victory was complete (though he had put himself in the pokcet of th Urdas; but preferred to shut his eyes to this reality). Now he also became the dominant linguistic and cultural group in the land. Did he realize that his victory was engineered by people who looked at him with overt and deep contempt and, in private conversation, called him a Punjabi Dhagha (ox; a symbol of stupidity)? It did not matter. He had at least been accepted as a civilized person speaking the "national" language. It did not occur to him that he had achieved "respectability" by alienating himself from his own history and culture. I suggest that he reckons the price he has paid, even if the account is made up in Urdu.

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