OFDN Conversations logo

EPISODE 5  — Lesser-known Languages of North Pakistan

“The Pakistani state puts on the people the responsibility of promoting, revitalising and saving languages, it doesn’t do anything itself.”


Pakistani language activist Zubair Torwali is working to revitalize nearly 30 languages of Northern Pakistan, including his own language Torwali.
This episode of “O Foundation Conversations” is an intimate conversation with Zubair Torwali who is a prominent language-activist from North Pakistan. Mr. Torwali has been working for the last 15 years for the protection and growth of his own language Torwali and 30 other languages of his region.
Did you know that 9th of August is the “International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples”? It marks the inaugural session by the United Nations “Working Group on Indigenous  Populations” that has been working for protecting the indigenous rights since 1982. As social, political and environmental changes often put indigenous communities under risk, this day, of many things, is also a reminder for everyone to protect the rights of indigenous communities. And access to information in one’s own language is a fundamental human right too. Mr. Torwali and his organization “idara baraye taleem-o-taraqi” (Institute for Education and Development) have been working closely with the communities of northern Pakistan for the preservation and documentation of their respective languages and cultures, and for also creating digital resources for the growth of these languages.
In this episode, Mr. Torwali shares some key recommendations that other language activists can use in their work,  and his words of hope affirming that communities sharing languages across borders will continue to work together.


Subhashish Panigrahi


Zubair Torwali

Reading List

Torwali, Zubair. “Countering the challenges of globalization faced by endangered languages of North Pakistan“. Language Documentation and Description,  vol 17. (Ed. Peter K. Austin). (Accessed 8 August 2020)
Torwali, Zubair. Short documentary on IBT work on Torwali language and culture. (Accessed 8 August 2020)
Rising Voices. “Q&A: Meet Zubair Torwali, Torwali language activist“. (Accessed 8 August 2020)


Freesound pieces: gutiyvon. YVONNE GuitarArpeggiation. (CC0 1.0); quetzalcontla. Warm guitar rhythm Intro. (CC-BY 3.0); Additional music: Subhashish Panigrahi


The opinions expressed are personal to the participating guest(s), and the producer(s) shall not be liable for the same.