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This is apropos a Business Recorder op-ed “International Mother Language Day” carried by the newspaper yesterday. The writer, Rashed Rahman, appears to have made a serious effort aimed at promoting awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity in the country. He has stated, among other things, that “Punjab, despite ‘recognising’ Punjabi as an official language in 2013, remains a prisoner of its history. That history is rooted in the Muslim Punjabi elite and intellectuals’ resentment against Sikh rule and the embrace of the British colonialists’ imposition of Urdu and English to replace Punjabi and Farsi.”

The writer, however, seems to have ignored a key historical fact in relation to the Sikh rule over Punjab. Maharaja Ranjit Singh - in particular - had skilfully handled the relationship between Sikhs and Muslims. The Punjabi Muslim elite had gleefully acquiesced to the Sikh rule at least till 1839, the year of the Maharaja’s death. It is therefore important to recall that the Fakir brothers and other Muslims held key portfolios such as foreign and internal affairs and defence under the Maharaja’s rule.

Diljeet Singh (London)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021