Balochistan's Marginalisation Is Reflected In Language Resources

Balochistan's Marginalisation Is Reflected In Language Resources
Balochistan, referred to as the backbone of Pakistan, has played a pivotal role in the country's economy due to its abundant natural resources. However, it is unfortunate that despite being the largest and most resource-rich province, Balochistan remains the poorest among the four provinces of Pakistan.

Regrettably, indigenous demagogue leaders have contributed significantly to the challenges faced by Balochistan. Moreover, the province has a substantial youth population, with approximately 65 percent of its total population below the age of 30. The tainted performance of Baloch politicians has endangered the dignity and identity of the Baloch people.

Various anti-Baloch strategies have been implemented since the formation of Pakistan, aiming to alter the socio-economic norms of the Baloch. Consequently, the nation has lost its hold on its language. The Baloch people lack proficiency in other Balochi dialects. For instance, individuals residing in the Makran belt cannot converse in the Marri and Bugti dialects, just as Baloch from these regions struggle with the Mekurani parlance.

To address this communication barrier and linguistic gap, a standardised form of Balochi should be promoted. All Baloch people should adopt this standard in their respective regions, enabling a comfortable understanding of different accents. Just as English utilises a standard that unifies people globally, allowing them to speak and write in a way that bridges regional gaps and language differences.

The responsibility of fulfilling this fundamental requirement falls upon Balochi scholars, linguists and language enthusiasts. However, it is disheartening to note that they have been unsuccessful, despite receiving substantial funds from the Provincial Government. As a nation, we have regrettably failed to reach a consensus on the standardization of our language.

Likewise, the residents of Sarwan are unable to converse in Balochi. While the Baloch people share a common dress code across all regions, language differences create divisions within the nation. Unquestionably, some politically motivated individuals, who are ill-informed, exploit these differences to gain political support.

According to UNESCO, there are currently seven thousand languages spoken worldwide, but sadly, about three thousand of them are predicted to become extinct in the future. Unfortunately, the Balochi language is among those at risk. Its value is gradually diminishing in regions such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iran and Afghanistan. The core issue lies within Balochistan itself, and the responsible authorities in the province need to take their duty more seriously. Private institutions for language teaching are non-existent, and the language should be given greater importance in government institutions, considering its significance. Balochi has no representation in mainstream media outlets like newspapers, magazines or TV channels.

In contrast, when comparing Balochistan to other provinces in Pakistan where their languages are taught, a pertinent question arises: Why is Balochi not part of the curriculum in schools, colleges, and universities in Balochistan? Whether it is due to the government or the Baloch community, the reasons remain unclear.

However, it is undeniable that Punjabi has a rich historical background and is actively taught. Similarly, in Sindh, the younger generation learns Sindhi, understanding their heritage and history. Likewise, in KP, Pashto is taught in educational institutions.

Furthermore, as we observe today, children from Pashto, Sindhi and Punjabi backgrounds can read and write in their respective languages. Unfortunately, many Baloch youth disregard reading, writing, and learning their own language, unaware of their origins, history and cultural heritage. They need to be educated about their national heroes and past.

Hence, it is imperative that the current generation becomes aware of its mother language, appreciating this natural blessing. By addressing the aforementioned shortcomings, the language will experience a renaissance in its homeland.

In this digital era of technology and the internet, linguists and intellectuals should modernize Balochi on these platforms. Baloch technical experts can develop mobile coding in Balochi, and efforts should be made to enable Google, internet browsing, and other modern tools to support the Balochi language. This way, Balochi can be updated to meet the challenges of the modern age and flourish further. Otherwise, it will struggle to keep pace with other global languages.