Capital’s Roman Urdu signs difficult to decipher

Domestic visitors, foreign tourists often face difficulty trying to figure out areas


Zulfikar Baig January 14, 2021
A view of Islamabad city. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

As the 21st century ushered in unprecedented advancement in technology and communications, the developed nations, particularly France, scrambled to preserve their language and culture. After outlawing certain English phrases, the French authorities introduced alternatives for Facebook, email and other similar terms in the modern parlance.

In a complete departure from such an instance, Pakistan’s federal capital presents a bizarre outlook when it comes to the signboards installed across the city. The signboards in question depict the names of the national institutions and highways written in Roman Urdu instead of the national language, Urdu.

The picturesque capital primarily houses diplomats, ministers, senior government and non-government officials, the parliament, cabinet divisions and departments running the country’s affairs.

To instruct the general public and foreigners residing in the federal capital, plaques and signboards have been put up in Urdu and English to help identify major areas.

However, the signboards erected at Shahra-e-Dastur, Bari Imam Road, Blue Area, F-7, F-6, Pakistan Secretariat, F-8, G-8 and Zone-Five have names engraved in Roman Urdu. As a result, domestic visitors and foreign tourists face difficulty at times trying to figure out areas in the federal capital.

Surprisingly, when a person searches for information regarding these places on Google Search, the names of these areas fail to appear at times.

In order to allay the situation, the National Heritage and Cultural Division’s subsidiary, the National Language Promotion Department, has taken several steps to strengthen the presence of the national language.

In this regard, along with the promotion of Urdu language at ministries, divisions and departments, signboards will be installed at all major and minor highways in Islamabad.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, National Language Department Executive Director Dr Rashid Hameed said they have repeatedly informed the federal authorities such as the Capital Development Authority and other institutions that the dignity of the national language should be maintained and the names of the institutions should be written in Urdu on the signboards.

Hameed continued that according to the Article 251 of the Constitution of Pakistan, Urdu is the national language of the country. He added that the article also mentioned the timeframe within which the national language should have been adopted and properly used across the country. “The National language of Pakistan is Urdu, and arrangements shall be made for its being used for official and other purposes within fifteen years from the commencing day,” according to the Article 251 (1).

The article provides basis for the notion that the national language should be uniformly adopted and the other languages or terminologies shouldn’t be accommodated at the expense of Urdu.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2021.

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