Kuldip Nayar, a Sialkot-born Indian journalist of renown, recently cited a research report released by UNESCO that says Punjabi is a dying language and is bound to disappear in the next 50 years. All kudos to Zinda Dilan-e-Lahore whose concerted and deliberate efforts have brought the D-day of Punjabi much earlier than predicted. Tragedy of the language of Waris Shah and Bullhay Shah started in late sixties when the so-called elite of Lahore and other urban communities started speaking Urdu which, being a language of integrity, has an undeniable importance in our federation. There might be some other factors behind this shift also but no argument whatsoever justifies extinction of our mother tongue, something that is a revered and sacred heritage of nations. Consequently, a complete generation of below forty Punjabis is now totally illiterate in their own language. By one estimate, almost 80% inhabitants of the urban Punjab, and none-too-negligible percentage of the rural areas, have discarded Punjabi at all levels. What a pity that other nations take pride in speaking their mother tongue but the Punjabis feel ashamed of speaking Punjabi. They themselves consider it to be the language of the illiterate, uncouth and uncivilized. In my opinion the probable death of Punjabi would be a national loss and it must be prevented. The following initial steps must be taken on government and non-governmental level to save Punjabi from total extinction (1) People of Punjab should be made to realize the sanctity and importance of their mother tongue and persuaded to communicate in Urdu or English at the national level but at the same time start speaking Punjabi with people whose mother tongue is Punjabi, especially with their children. (2) Punjabi and other provincial languages should be given the status of national languages. (3) Learning of Punjabi should be a compulsory subject started from primary classes. Languages die and their natural death cannot be avoided but surely there are remedies to check the suicidal death of a language. -TARIQ MAHMUD, Lahore, November 26.