Session on Punjabi language calls for people’s narrative of history

-village in Indian Punjab

(originally posted on Daily Times)

BY Faizan Ali Warraich

LAHORE: : Punjabi language has been standing in the linguistic crossroads; free-thinkers had always been discredited by ‘intellectually bankrupt’ class of historians; need of the hour was to write people’s narrative history of the Punjab instead of history written by court historians of colonial powers, stated speakers of a session on ‘zuban apni apni, Punjabi language and people’s narrative’ on day one of Lahore Literary Festival.

Renowned personality Mushtaq Soofi – who has worked extensively in the field of Punjabi language – moderatd the session.

Symbol of Punjabi language writer Ahmed Saleem said people’s narrative of the general history of the region of Punjab, Indian and Pakistani Punjab included, needs to be highlighted and promoted among young generation. He said there were two narratives in history writing: one was state narrative and the other one of people’s. He said people of Punjab had always fought against intruders and invaders who came along all the way from Kabul to get Delhi’s throne and ruined the Punjab’s lands.

Saleem said that colonisation by imperial powers, including Britain East India Company, who ruled the sub-continent actually destroyed the narrative and story of common people who lived peacefully before coming of the invaders. He said colonisation always promoted foreign or alien language and discouraged local or native language – same happened in case of Punjab where Arabs promoted Arabic language, Mughals promulgated Persian language and British rule promoted English language.

-Dulla Bhatti Punjabi movie screenshot 

He added that it is high time to “point out our actual heroes like Dulla Bhatti who fought against emperor Akber the Great, Bhagat Singh notoriously famous of bombing in the then Punjab Assembly but who actually registered his protest towards the British rule and martyred freedom fighter Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal”.

Ahmed shah abdali invasion of india

Others speakers including Saeed Bhutta and Iqbal Qaiser lamented the widely spread wrong thought about Punjabi people that they supported and welcomed every foreign invader and intruder. They said there were 382 villages of the Lahore division and according to the history every invader including Ahmed Shah Abdali or Durranis of Afghanistan ruined these villages’ daily life and property while going towards Delhi. They said these intruders while they came along with their furious forces, always ruined the landscape, culture, values and customs of the Punjabi people.

While talking about Punjabi folklores, the speakers said these were the reflections of the collective consciousness of the Punjabi culture.

They asked the government to adopt Punjabi language at least in Punjab province so natives of this land could initiate the intellectual debate in their mother tongue.

Punjabi folklore stories couple

Mushtaq Soofi said that there was an ‘intellectual bankruptcy’ among the intelligentsia while they wrote the history of Punjab. He said Sufi saints including Baba Farid, Waris Shah and Bhullay Shah had outspokenly wrote in the form of lyrical poetry on the then atrocities and wrongdoings of the rulers. He said Pujabi Sufi poets had made tremendous efforts in promoting humanism while outspokenly writing on the then ‘landscape of the Punjab culture’ and bluntly pointing out the wrongdoing of the rulers. He said the medieval history of the Punjab has to be re-written from the people’s point of view as narrative of the people had been preserved in the form of Punjabi poetry and maxims.

poetry of Punjab’s most outspoken poet Bulleh Shah


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