Gilgit-Baltistan Region Language Under Threat13 November 2010
Gilgit: The cultural heritage of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), including its native language Shina, will perish if concrete steps are not taken to conserve it, an expert said yesterday. Shina, Brushasi, Khwar, Wakhi and Balti, spoken in G-B, are among the 3,000 languages identified by Unesco in its red book that are facing extinction in the next 50 years if steps are not taken to preserve them. The general secretary of the Shina Language and Cultural Promotion Society (SLCPS) said though Shina is widely spoken in G-B, its orthography is not officially recognised. The society aims to make a “breakthrough” in their preservation efforts by launching a recognised orthography of Shina. Ishtiaq Yaad, general secretary of SLCPS, considers this to be their real success. “The orthography of the Shina language will be launched soon as well as the Mother tongue Literacy Education (MLE) programme, which is meant to promote the writing and speaking of Shina in the region,” he said. Emphasising the need to safeguard the language and culture of the region, Yaad said: “We need to have a museum at least to conserve our precious cultural heritage.” SLCPS has done extensive research to promote the language that is being spoken not only in G-B but also in parts of Jammu and Kashmir, and Chitral, he said. “Under the umbrella of SLCPS, we have so far published 10 books while another three are in the pipeline,” Shakil Ahmad, president of SLCPS, said. A number of renowned regional linguists including Hafiz Shakir, Ghulam Ghandalo, Naseem and Salman Khan are part of the 15-member SLCPS team that is coordinating with the Karakoram International University (KIU) . Last year the university, following the same agenda, had organised an international conference on languages that was attended by world-renowned linguists.