Islamabad – An inclusive international committee comprising of Wakhi speaking people, from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China and Russia has been proposed for standardization and formalization of Wakhi alphabets. The proposal came at a meeting held Friday in Islamabad, attended by Moscow University scholar, Dr. Boghsho Lashkar Bekov and German scholar, Dr. Beate Reinhold, among others.
The meeting was held on return of Dr. Boghsho Lashkar Bekov from Gilgit – Baltistan, where he had gone to study the lifestyle and culture of Wakhi speaking people along with other academicians.
Also present at the meeting was German scholar, Dr. Beate Reinhold, who is a fluent Wakhi speaker, having learnt the language while living in Passu. She is author of a German language research based book on the Wakhi speaking people of Gojal Valley.
Dr. Beate Reinhold said that she is inspired by the progress of the Wakhi speaking people. Addressing participants in Wakhi, she said that indigenous ideas, solutions and methods will have to be employed for preservation and promotion of the language. She expressed joy over the fact that the local people are highly concerned about preservation and promotion of their cultural heritage.
Dr. Lashkar Bekov said that smaller languages and identities are threatened by the surge of capital based globalization. He appreciated the need for collaborative efforts to preserve and promote the Wakhi and other languages of the world. He also informed the meeting that around 4-6000 Wakhi speaking population is based in different parts of present day Russia.
Commenting on origin of the word “Wakhi”, Dr. Lashkar Bekov said that the word comes from an old name of the Amu Darya (Oxus), which flows through the Wakhan region.
Dr. Lashkar Bekov further said that the identity of a culture and its progress are highly inter-related. He said that speakers of many languages have lost their identities and that has resulted in a big loss for the global heritage.
An interactive question and answer session was held at the meeting with participants asking different questions from the scholars. It was suggested that help of international and national institutions, including universities and research organizations, should be taken to standardize the Wakhi script. It is pertinent to note that the meeting had been convened by Gojal Educational and Cultural Association (GECA), a registered organization based in Islamabad.
The speakers said that standardization of Wakhi alphabets would be an important step for preservation and promotion of the Pamiri language. The Wakhi people have also expressed their deep regard and appreciation for the support and patronage offered by Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations, Quaid-e-Azam; particularly by Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Khan, for making the scholars’ visit to Pakistan possible.
They have expressed hope that TIAC would play a leading role in preservation and promotion of Pakistan’s Wakhi-Pamiri cultural heritage.