Seraiki Concerns at BZU

Posted on June 29, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Culture & Heritage, Education, Politics, Society
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Adil Najam

Bahauddin Zakariya Univeristy (BZU) in Multan is going to begin full-fledged MA Seraiki classes. This is good news. Seraiki is an ancient language with a prestigious intellectual history and a rich literature, especially poetry. As with most regional languages in Pakistan, we have not done full justice in nourishing this heritage.

There is also much resentment in the greater Seraik-speaking area (which includes Southern Punjab, and parts of upper Sindh and Eastern Baluchistan) and a sense of injustice about how this region and its heritage has been treated, especially by Lahore-centric Northern Punjab (by way of disclosure, I should say I myself am from Northern Punjab).

As such, the decision is not just appropriate but politically significant. According to a news story in The News (26 June, 2006), however, it could soon turn controversial.

Welcoming start of MA Seraiki classes at the Bahauddin Zakariya University, literary circles urged its vice chancellor to appoint a person fluent in spoken and written Seraiki with a grip on its literature as head of the department.

Reportedly, there are “speculations circling in [Multan] that a person who neither speaks, reads nor writes Seraiki is being made the head of the department.” In response, an open letter has been sent to the BZU vice chancellor Prof Dr Naseer Ahmed Khan. The letter’s tone signifies deep distrust and apprehension and does not have the sweetness one usually associates with the Seraiki language:

“Dear VC Sahib, Multan is not your birthplace nor you have spent a long time in this area. You have joined BZU as vice chancellor and will return back upon retirement. You know little about the language and culture of the Seraiki belt but you are respectable and most prestigious guest for the people of Multan. We have been expecting goodwill from you and the people of Multan believe that you will have to take up matters of the Seraiki department seriously and sympathetically… please give due respect to Seraiki language as your mother tongue because God has selected you for this great assignment. The Seraiki department should be set up without political prejudices and the people of Multan would remember the vice chancellor forever after his retirement.”

In the larger scheme of Pakistan’s politics, this is a minor issue that the powers that be will not pay attention to. That, however, will be a mistake.

If, in fact, someone who does not read or speak Seraiki is about to be installed as the head of department, then that is just plain wrong. But it would also signify one more act of disrespect and disregard against a community that already considers itself marginalized. It is the cumilation of things like this that breeds the situation we now see in Baluchistan. As a society, we ignore such things at our own peril.

10 Comments on “Seraiki Concerns at BZU”

  1. MSK says:
    June 29th, 2006 4:56 pm

    If the rumor about this appointment is true, that would be like appointing someone who knows no physics as head of physics, or an accountant as head of Engineering, or a General as a Vice Chncellor… wait, we already do that third thing ;-)

  2. Azhar says:
    June 29th, 2006 5:15 pm

    You right about feelingness of injustice in Saraiki belt. This is proud people who feel like Punjabi speakers have taken their right. Multan is no longer major city. Language is not respected. So, good you highlight their issue.

  3. June 30th, 2006 12:46 am

    This is indeed an important issue…as a matter of fact, I was glad to hear a rumor about a month or so ago that Pakistan was being divided into 10 privinces out of which Multan was one…
    The Seraiki people have great history and heritage that cannot and should not be ignored. Some experts go as far as pointing out that the Seraiki Language is the predecessor of the Punjabi Language.
    As the song goes “Jamni hount Seraeki bolaen, aur kanoun mae rus tapkey”.

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    July 6th, 2006 9:06 am

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  5. Chand Khan says:
    July 28th, 2006 8:59 am

    Anwar Ahmed has appointed as chairman of Siraiki department .He may write and read Siraiki.Letter was written by Javed Akhter Bhutti .He is Punjabi speaking .He did not write one word in Siraiki language .He has some vested interest against Siraiki .Plz don’t care it. Sorry for the death V.C and Raof Sheikh.

  6. Anhad Murali da Dilbar says:
    December 15th, 2006 12:08 pm

    This is an important but much neglected subject in the history of literatures in Pakistan. Only some scholars have ventured into the area. In the West the most prominent is Christopher Shackle of SOAS who in the late eighties published “50 Poems of Khwaja Ghulam Farid.” This work is perhaps the best known translation of the Kafis of Khwaja Ghulam Farid (d. 1901) in English.

    Khwaja Ghulam Farid knows no introduction in the pantheon of Siraiki literature. A renowed poet and scholar, he was known to have written commentaries on some of ibn al-Arabi’s works including the famous “al-Futuhat al-Makkiya” and ibn al-Arabi’s divan of mystical poetry named, “Tarjuman al-Ashwaq.”

    The following is a famous Kafi (it has been sung many times by various artists perhaps best by Pathaney Khan) on the subject of the ‘mi’raj of the Prophet [swas]. Khawaja Sahib approaches the subject through the lens of ibn al-Arabi’s concept of “Wahdat al-Wujud.”

    The transcription into Latin characters will lose the flavour of the original Siraiki but here goes:

    anhad murali shor machaya

    Gur nayn pooray bhayd batayay
    ‘aql, fikar sab fahm gumayay
    madhoshi vich hosh sikhayay
    sara safar ‘urooj sujhaya

    Wahdat ‘ayn ‘ayan dithosay
    tams haqiqi samajh liyosay
    makhfi kull izhar thiyosay
    har gun Giyan day geet kuN paya

    thayay vazih mashhood daqa’iq
    thaya la’ih anwaar haqa’iq
    zaahir, gujh, sabh gujh day la’iq
    qurb tay bu’d da farq uthaya

    bansi khub bataiyan baataaN
    gukhRay raaz, anokhiyaN ghaataaN
    gum thayiyaN kooRiyaaN zaat sifaataaN
    li-man al-Mulk da dowraa aya

    khumr tahooroN pi paymaanay
    thiosay ‘ashiq mast yaganay
    bhul gayay Sawm, Salaat do-gaanay
    rindi mashrab saaNgh rachaya

    jaaNay kon gaNwar muqallid
    vah vah reet muqaddas jayyid
    thay mutlaq bay qayd muwahhid
    sabh soorat vich aap samaya

    jab hik ramz mili TowhidoN
    dil azaad Ditham taqlidoN
    thiy kar fard, Farid, faridoN
    Sirr-i, Ruh-i, va’z suNaya

    Hope everyone enjoys this.

    DarvayshaN da Sai’N Nigahban

  7. Owais Mughal says:
    December 15th, 2006 5:21 pm

    Dear Anhad Murali da Dilbar. Thanks for sharing the ‘kafi’ with us. I enjoyed reading it

  8. zuhaib says:
    January 18th, 2008 3:51 am

    plz tell me the date sheet of M.A part 2 of 2008
    i will be thankful to u

  9. Khwaja Aftab Shah, USA says:
    March 31st, 2009 11:52 am

    The people of BHAKKAR district have elected a chief minister of Punjab and a prime minister of Pakistan in different elections. Although a goup of local leaders sponcer the occasion and personally benefited by this gesture but basically the people of Bhakkar elected these leaders in hope of a better Bhakkar. It’s requested to the prime minister of Pakistan and chief minister of Punjab to please consider upgrading Bhakkar as a divisional head quarter by appointing a commissioner to provide better governance, extra facilities and security in the area. There are news that religious violence and drug smuggling is increased in the area recently. Bhakkar is a gate way to the Punjab and Sind provinces for NWFP and Afghanistan. Bhakkar has been head quarters of divisional level organization of Thal Development Authority since 1952. TDA was abolish in 1971 on corruption charges against it’s high officials. Bhakkar is also a border district to Dera Ismail Khan and a capital city of Thal desert area-spread in six districts in Punjab. Thanking you, Khwaja Aftab Shah, U.S.A

  10. October 1st, 2009 2:19 pm

    This is g/news about saraiki lang.We have to promot.I can participate.any body can send some e mail.thanks USA

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