Amritsar, May 10 : Punjabi is spoken as the first language by 45 percent of Pakistan's population, and yet it does not have any official status in Pakistan.
Given this surprising fact, it causes amazement when a propagandist entity like Radio Pakistan blatantly suggests that the language is losing its ground in East or the Indian side of Punjab.
In Pakistan and India, the Punjabi language has many dialects, developed over a period of over 1000 years. Some of the more popular ones are: Majhi, Jhangvi, Shahpuri, Pothowari and Hindko to name a few.
Malwi, Doabi and Saraiki (Multani) are the other Punjabi dialects spoken in Pakistan and in some parts of Indian Punjab
Punjabi may have been literally born in Pakistan, but broadcasters like Radio Pakistan do hesitate in blaming India for neglecting the language.
This charge has been countered by the Amritsar-based Almi Punjabi Virasat Foundation, which claims that Radio Pakistan is indulging in false and malicious propaganda.
"Pakistan can't identify Gurmukhi script because whenever we visit there and write or read Punjabi, they ask is it a Hindi. If they fail to recognize the Punjabi language, they have no right to comment on Punjabi," said an official of the foundation.
Gulzar Singh, an employee of a government school, Sachatar in Amritsar District says Punjabi is not limited to India, but has spread to countries like Canada.
Radio Pakistan should know that Punjabi is one of the most spoken languages in the world.
Apart from being the official language of the Indian state of Punjab and the shared state capital Chandigarh, it is one of the second official languages of Delhi and Haryana.
It is also spoken in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. It is the most widely spoken language in Pakistan, according to the CIA fact book.
Punjabi is also spoken as a minority language in several other countries where Punjabis have emigrated in large numbers such as the United States, Australia, England (where it is the second most commonly used language and Canada (where it is the fifth most commonly used language.
Punjabi is the preferred language of most Sikhs, and most of their religious literature is written in it.
That signs at a Canada airport are written in Punjabi, is reflection of the language's popularity, not its decline, he adds.
Not only Punjabi, but Punjabi culture too has a global presence, and this is reflected in the popularity of folk dances like the Bhangra.
Englishmen, Africans and even Arabs are known to have danced to Punjabi tunes.
Pakistan, therefore, needs to thank India for promoting Punjabi internationally, and should even take few tips on how to preserve the language.