Sargodha University to set up International Center for Punjab Studies
The University of Sargodha will set up an International Center for Punjab Studies (ICPS), the university administration announced following a two-day international conference titled ‘Punjab: History, Literature and Civilization.’
Dr Pritam Singh, Professor at Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, UK, led the conference, organized by Department of Urdu and Oriental Languages. The Conference aimed at looking for ways to highlight and preserve Punjabi language, question of Punjabi identity, politics and the Partition.
The Center for Punjab Studies, announced by the University of Sargodha, will focus on studies related to Punjab’s history and identity, tradition and civilization, the region of the Punjab, and the Punjabi communities settled in other parts of the world. The name of the Center was proposed by Dr Pritam Singh.
Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad, the Vice Chancellor Sargodha University announced the decision of setting up the Centre in the light of a declaration came up at the end of conference to preserve and promote rich culture of Punjab.
Both international and national speakers at the conference called for including Punjabi in early education curriculum. They said the youth of Punjab was unaware of the importance of its Punjabi identity as the subject’s popularity was slowly vanishing and being plundered due to a lack of awareness and the invasion of English culture.
In his keynote address, Dr Singh presented a comprehensive analysis of Punjab while exploring its various aspects like language, culture, heritage and the changes it had witnessed through various periods.
This is a matter of concern that Punjabi is striving to achieve a respectable status as a spoken language in its own land, he said, adding that cultural diversity of Punjab is in danger just like the biodiversity of the world due to climate change and global warming, over-exploitation of natural resources and environmental degradation. Both are needed to be tackled by the joint urgency efforts, he further added.
Discussing socioeconomic and cultural transformation of Punjab during colonial and post-colonial period, he said political economy of nationalism in the post-colonial governance of Pakistan and India presented a new macro-economic environment in contrast with the colonial era in shaping of the economies of Punjab of both the countries.
Dr Singh said the Indian Punjabi speaking community, despite being in minority, worked exceptionally well to promote its language with Punjabi declared as the official language in the East Punjab being conveniently utilised in proceedings of assembly and official documentation.
Dr Wali Aslam, Associate Professor at the Department of Politics, languages and International Studies, University of Bath, UK shared his research titled ‘The Socio-Cultural Identity of Punjab and the Concept of ‘Misplaced Regions.’ He argued that Pakistani Punjab appears to be misplaced in the subcontinent where those residing here do not consider themselves to be part of Indian civilization. “Those observing it from the outside also cannot recognize Pakistani Punjab’s contemporary socio-cultural landscape that might be reminiscent of Punjab as it was, Dr aslam added.
Addressing the conference, Nain Sukh, a renowned Punjabi fiction writer said that available history of Punjab was not true, as it was written by the rulers, colonizers, just ‘Fatah Namas’ which cannot be considered genuine sources of history. He contended that folk literature is based on pure feelings, experiences and reactions; moreover, because it was not written by a specific person, it is a collective voice of the people.
Dr Saeed Bhutta, in his address, said more than 50pc people in Pakistan had Punjabi as their mother tongue while all the other languages, Sindhi, Pashto, Seraiki, Urdu, Hindko, Balochi, Brahvi, Pothwari and Gujrati combined were spoken by less than 50pc of the population of the country. He said languageof the majority always dominated the language of the minority but it’s the opposite case in Punjab.
“A language is not merely a tool of expressing thoughts but it also transmits a treasure of folk wisdom,” Dr Bhutta added.
Dr Mujahida Butt, associate professor of LCWU Lahore, shared her thoughts on ‘Punjabi Classicy Qissa Jati Adab Wich Aurat.’ She founded that Punjabi classical poets were the followers of feminisms and personally feminist all women characters of classical poetry were created by men, supported by men and the writers of all classical qissa’s were men too.
Dr Zaheer Wattoo from the Govt College University (GCU), Lahore, Dr Samina Batool, Dr Mariyum and Dr Saima Batool from LCWU Lahore, Dr Faisal Jappa and Dr Zubair focused the situation and concepts related to Punjab as a region, its culture and history in their speeches.
At the end, Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad and Dr Munir Gujjar distributed the souvenirs, gifts and certificates among the esteemed guest speakers.