Official language: is it Urdu or English?

Published: July 29, 2013

It was decided in 1973 that a decade from then on, Urdu will be declared as the official language of Pakistan. However, this did not happen. It is worth mentioning that upon approval of the Constitution in 1973, Balochistan kept Urdu as its official language. This step was taken by then chief minister Attaullah Mengal. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is in the majority currently, the provincial assembly members took their oaths in Urdu, although most of them were pure Pashto, Hindko and Seraiki speakers. It was possible to take the oath in Pashto but the admired patriots took their oath in Urdu and did not allow race or other considerations to trump the national interest.

On the contrary, the Sindh Assembly stood divided on the language basis, where the majority took their oaths in Sindhi, while others opted for Urdu and English. In Punjab, the oath was taken in English and Urdu. The Balochistan Assembly left everyone behind and took the oath in four different languages. The National Assembly members took their oath in English. It didn’t seem like Pakistan’s National Assembly where the national language was supposed to be Urdu. I remember that the Chinese prime minister’s speech to the Senate and National Assembly had been delivered in Mandarin, the official language of the People’s Republic of China and then translated into English. If development comes with the use of English, why has China seen rapid development in the past few years? Taking an oath is a matter of law, but when it comes to the language chosen to do so, the matter becomes political.

It seems that the dislike for our national language will continue to rise and political parties, along with members of assemblies will conduct politics on the basis of their place of birth, language and race. I have one question for the upper class of this country: every other country in this world is proud of their mother language, why aren’t we?

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • j
    Jul 29, 2013 - 3:03PM

    janab: In china mandarin is more popular, where as in pak local languages are more popular in same areas and in some areas Urdu is more popular. So this all depends on us.Recommend

  • Jul 29, 2013 - 3:16PM

    I can’t read or write Urdu well having grown up abroad. But I can assure you that I have absolutely no difficulty in getting things done in this country. For example all the store signs, bank forms including cheques and deposit slips, bank statements, utility bills, government department forms, menus at restaurants etc. are in English. I wonder how people who only know Urdu get along!


  • Sindhi
    Jul 29, 2013 - 5:32PM

    Why should Sindhi’s speak urdu????????We are proud of our language……..Urdu is from northern india…………….


  • gujranwala789
    Jul 29, 2013 - 10:15PM

    As a punjabi speaking person I reject the “national language” status for urdu. Urdu is national language of mahajirs only, it is not the national language for other ethnicities of pakistan.


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