Get Bangla in Arabic script | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 07, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 07, 2011

Amar Ekushey

Get Bangla in Arabic script

Opined then Bengali education minister

The death of Mohammad Ali Jinnah in September 1948 pushed Pakistan squarely up against a set of new conditions. A fundamental reason behind that was that Jinnah had combined in himself the powers of governor general, president of the constituent assembly and president of the ruling Muslim League. His successor Khwaja Nazimuddin could not lay claim to such unbridled authority. Besides, there was Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, who was already making it known that power was now his to wield. As for Nazimuddin, he showed not the slightest trace of taking Pakistan to a new direction, but he did make it clear that under him Pakistan would remain firmly on the course its founder had set for it. That included the late founder's position on the language question.
Meanwhile, despite the political change in the country, the people of East Bengal showed little inclination toward softening their stance on the demand for Bangla being the state language of Pakistan. Liaquat Ali Khan visited the province over a period of ten days from November 18 to 28 1948. It is interesting that when the state language committee of action decided to present the case for Bangla before the prime minister, it authorised Golam Azam (later to collaborate with the Pakistan occupation army in 1971) to do the job. Azam at the time happened to be general secretary of Dhaka University Students Union (DUSU) and was chosen because the leaders of the action committee felt that the president of the union, Aurobindo Basu, could not be asked to see the head of government since he was part of a religious community already under suspicion by the authorities. Golam Azam's role was thus confined to a presentation of the statement to the prime minister and no more.
On December 27 1948, Fazlur Rahman, the Bengali education minister of Pakistan, surprised everyone with his view that Bangla should be written in the Arabic script. He made his opinion known on the day at the inaugural session of the All-Pakistan conference of teachers.
The East Bengal Literary conference, the first of its kind to be organised in Pakistan and at the initiative of the health minister, Habibullah Bahar, was held on December 31 1948 and January 1 1949. The conference was quite revealing for a number of happenings and incidents that occurred during the two-day session. The most significant aspect of the conference, however, was the address delivered before the assembled delegates by the venerable scholar Dr. Shahidullah. He was unambiguous in his assertion that Bangla being a rich language qualified as a medium of instruction throughout East Bengal. He made it clear that Bangla was the language of the people of both East and West Bengal. The highlight of his remarks came when he reminded his audience that though the people of East Bengal might be Hindus and Muslims by religious denomination, they were all Bangalis who were heir to a common cultural heritage.
Obviously, Dr. Shahidullah's forthright expression of views was not looked upon kindly by the political authorities and the adherents of Urdu.

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