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.