My Language, My Identity: The Census Form Will Include Torwali, Gawri And Gujari Languages

My Language, My Identity: The Census Form Will Include Torwali, Gawri And Gujari Languages
A person's mother tongue is a critical aspect of their identity. It is the language in which they learn their first words, communicate with their family and community, and develop their cultural and personal identity. Mother tongue shapes their thoughts, emotions, and experiences, and it allows them to express themselves more effectively. The mother tongue is often a symbol of a person's cultural identity, and it can help them maintain their cultural heritage and pass it on to future generations. Overall, a person's mother tongue is an essential element of their identity and has a significant impact on their personal and cultural development.

Last year, I applied for the renewal of my national ID card online. While filling out the form, I encountered a barrier as the available options did not include Torwali, my mother tongue. Unfortunately, I had to select Kohistani, which was the closest option available and which is the language spoken in Kohistan districts.  This experience left me feeling linguistically marginalised and uneasy. However, I have grown accustomed to facing such challenges since leaving home after completing my matriculation.

Over the years, I have had to explain to people from Punjab and Sindh that I am not a Pashtun but can converse fluently in Pashto. Similarly, I have had to clarify to my colleagues from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that I am not from Indus Kohistan. Many of them mistook me for someone from Gilgit-Baltistan due to my Urdu accent, which resembles theirs.

One of the most shocking experiences I had was during an interview for a Physics teaching job at a leading university in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The panel initially criticised my Pashto accent, and it took me half of the interview to clarify that while I am from Swat, I am not a Pashtun. I am sure that many of my Torwali friends and acquaintances have encountered similar identity crises, especially those who attend colleges and universities in the down cities. These incidents have highlighted the importance of acknowledging and respecting linguistic diversity, which is integral to our cultural heritage and individual identities.

Two days ago, I was thrilled to hear the news that the representatives of Torwali, Gawri, and Gujari had won a legal battle in the Peshawar High Court to include these languages in the census form. As someone who understands the importance of preserving diverse cultures, I realised that this was a monumental victory for linguistic rights.

For many people from the so-called major communities, it may just be a court order, but for those who speak these languages, it is a kind of mental relief, a reclaimed identity, and a regained basic human right. It is a step towards recognition and inclusion, which has been long overdue. The decision to include these languages in the census form not only acknowledges the existence of these linguistic minorities but also paves the way for their political representation and access to education and services in their mother tongues. It is a significant move towards building a more inclusive and diverse society.

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to everyone involved in this cause, and I would like to express my sincere gratitude to those who dedicated their time, resources, and energy to make it happen. This victory is a testament to the power of collective action and the unwavering commitment of those who stand up for their rights. It takes immense courage and perseverance to fight for a cause, especially one that has been neglected for so long.

The representatives of Torwali, Gawri, and Gujari have shown that they are not willing to be marginalised or silenced, and their efforts have paid off in the form of this historic win. I hope that this victory serves as an inspiration to others who are fighting for their rights and that it ignites a spark of hope in those who may have given up on their dreams. Let this victory be a reminder that change is possible, and that every voice matters in the fight for justice and equality.