Our culture began to merge with Western values when the dish antennas began their mushroom growth in the 1990s. Until the mid-1990s, Pakistan had a state-owned television channel along with a private channel. Both telecasted programmes with content aligned with our society. One remembers the simple yet thought-provoking dramas of the 1980s and 1990s that the entire family watched with diligence. 

However, the emergence of dish antennas and later the arrival of cable television diluted our culture as outside factors began entering our minds. These factors made their way in the form of fashion, language, and music. During the early 2000s, the youth was seen sporting a “spike” hairstyle that was adapted from the Western or perhaps from the Indian media. Wearing loose shirts and baggy jeans was another fashion statement the youth made during that era.

Our culture, however, was lost in transition. After independence, our elders promoted our culture which included wearing sherwani, shalwar kameez, waistcoat, safari chappal, Jinnah Cap, shawl, etc. This trend of promoting national dress and culture was evident until the 1980s and even in the 1990s. 

The thought process of the people changed because of being exposed to the media and when their relatives and friends began settling abroad—mainly in the US, Europe, or the UAE. The experiences they shared about these foreign societies upon their visits to Pakistan helped in creating a new cultural framework in the minds of those who never visited abroad.

Our culture was also defined by the fine sense of elegance that was reflected in the way we conversed. Urdu poetry and prose made us attuned to our legacy and cultural heritage. Imagine a conversation where salutations, greetings, and gestures remain of paramount importance. 

People used words from the Urdu language and the ones derived from the Persian language. Gone are the days when we greeted each other by saying “Adaab” or used phrases such as ‘Kya guftagu chal rahi hai?’ (What are you talking about?), ‘Aap ki kheriat maloom karni thi’ (I wanted to know about your wellbeing), ‘Humaray saath khana nosh famrain’ (Please have lunch/dinner with us).

The culture also began changing when our attitudes and behaviour began transforming. People casually began using Urdu slang words. Schools have not been paying heed to promoting Urdu as a language. The teachers only teach the course for the sake of teaching. 

Moreover, the English-language mode of education also diluted the presence of Urdu in our society and eventually from our culture. Speaking Urdu at a school where everyone talks in English is considered a mistake. Urdu is not only a language; it is a lifestyle. A part of this lifestyle is being lost over the years.

This classic culture was brought to Pakistan at the time of partition when migrants from Lucknow, Delhi, Aligarh, and other areas of India settled in Pakistan. This cultured, graceful, and refined language is still spoken but only in limited circles. 

Some families in the metropolis of Pakistan still converse with such beautiful words. Our new generation and the millennials are not aware of our glorious past and the melodious language that we call Urdu.