SC orders immediate implementation of Urdu as official language

Published: September 8, 2015


The Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday the implementation of Urdu as the official language at all government departments, Express News reported.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Jawwad S Khawaja announced its judgment over petitions seeking to adopt Urdu as the official language.

Calling for an immediate implementation of Article 251, the Supreme Court issued nine guidelines for making Urdu the official language.

Read: Pakistan to replace English with Urdu as official language

According to Article 251, the national language of Pakistan is Urdu and arrangements shall be made for it being used for official and other purposes within fifteen years from the commencing day.

“Subject to clause (1), English language may be used for official purposes until arrangements are made for its replacement by Urdu,” the article further states.

Passed in 1973, the Constitution of Pakistan under Article 251 specifies, “Without prejudice to the status of the national language, a provincial assembly may by law prescribe measures for the teaching, promotion and use of a provincial language in addition to the national language.”

In July this year, Pakistan confirmed a long-running rumour of dropping English as its official language and switching to its mother tongue, Urdu.

Read: National language: Universities asked to use Urdu as official language

On September 6, the Ministry of Education and Professional Training and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) instructed all public and private sector universities to use Urdu as official language. They have also been directed to translate their respective Acts, Statutes and websites into Urdu from English.

The HEC has asked higher education institutions across the country to implement the orders, originally issued by the president, until September 15.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Junaid Jamshed Khan
    Sep 8, 2015 - 2:24PM

    Nobody’s mother tongue is Urdu in Pakistan apart from a small percentage. Why don’t they make Punjabi the national language as it has the highest number of speakers?Recommend

  • Parvez
    Sep 8, 2015 - 2:38PM

    Good…….but have all the other issues like fixing the broken criminal judicial system, been attended to ? Recommend

  • Nadeem
    Sep 8, 2015 - 2:48PM

    Where r those guidelines?Recommend

  • Kashan
    Sep 8, 2015 - 2:53PM

    It’s a landmark decision which will have a lasting impact. The nations which have excelled in education have used their own mother tongue like China, Russia, Japan, Korea, France, Germany are the few notables. Recommend

  • Usman
    Sep 8, 2015 - 2:55PM

    @Junaid Jamshed Khan: Useless comment.
    On another note, this is well well overdue and should have been implemented a long time ago. Recommend

  • Ravian
    Sep 8, 2015 - 3:11PM

    Nations are built around languages and we take the first step towards nation building…………Recommend

  • Frank
    Sep 8, 2015 - 3:11PM

    Hindustani is by no means the mother tongue of Pakistan. Do they know what mother tongue means? Moreover, Hindustani is by no means suitable for use in science, technology, business, and legal and state affairs. English is one of the strong points of Pakistan. We remove English and we will be in very serious trouble. This SC decision is just utter madness!Recommend

  • Human
    Sep 8, 2015 - 3:40PM

    Actually these countries u named teach English in their schools……I would call this decision a step backwards Recommend

  • Sep 8, 2015 - 4:01PM

    We are heading towards stone age!!Recommend

  • Shaikh Mohommad
    Sep 8, 2015 - 5:07PM

    We see the Presidents and Prime Ministers of other countries talking in their own language. When we see on TV and international media Pakistani PM and other dignitaries talking in English Language, it makes us a colony of British Empire. One more important thing we should understand is that the children when they are taught in their own language understand the subjects and get educated easily and quickly. My hats off to Supreme Court.Recommend

  • concerned
    Sep 8, 2015 - 5:19PM

    This is the first step towards progress…we do not belong to a culture that is in any way attached to english. language brings culture along with it and the reason we do not think as a nation is because we have stopped following the same culture with certain sections of society actually shunning it…this leaves us with this great big chasm not just between various classes but even different generations with the effect that the transfer of knowledge and wisdom is slowly disappearing…where the grandparents are alienated from the grandchildren because they literally do not ‘speak the same language’. It is a ludicrous proposition to put forward that there is no need for one single unifying language in our country. Our values are a direct outcome of our culture and language passes them on example would b our way of greeting and showing respect to elders…we have become lax about our values because we have let our language slip…if we want to galvanise ourselves into a single entity then we have to stop searching without and start looking inwards. Btw urdu is the first step towards provincial languages and the natural outcome of this adoption of urdu will be punjabi raising its head again….pakistan zindabadRecommend

  • Javaid Arshad
    Sep 8, 2015 - 5:21PM

    English would still be taught in schools. And will be official language where use of Urdu is not suitable. I am in China. I am doing my degree using Chinese medium, we speak Chinese, study in Chinese, and work in Chinese. But English is still taught as a compulsory foreign language. Mandarin, The official dialect of Chinese is mother tongue of a very small percentage of population, but widely understood across China, making it suitable for official and educational language. Same goes with Urdu. So please stop ranting against Urdu, and be ready to use Urdu in your life , making it easier and faster. Recommend

  • Idolator
    Sep 8, 2015 - 5:24PM

    Would’ve been ideal to have English as a national language, while Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pashto and Seraiki could be second languages. That way we wouldn’t forget who we really are.Recommend

  • Salim Jan
    Sep 8, 2015 - 7:45PM

    This is a tremendous and commendable decision.Urdu is a linking language-Lingua Franca.TV stations should also be instructed to use chaste and pure Urdu.We have coined a new language from Urdu and English which is neither pure Urdu nor English. This mixture shows our mental slavery and speak volumes about our lack of national honour and proud.The example of Israel is worth following. The Jews of Israel who have migrated from different countries having different languages decided to revive their outdated Hebrew language and they succeeded in their mission.Now Hebrew is their national language. It doesn’t mean that we should banish English language.But we should give it a proper place.Its teaching methodology be improved.We can make progress with keeping our cultural values and norms intact.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Sep 8, 2015 - 9:22PM

    @Junaid Jamshed Khan:
    Urdu is lingua franca of Pakistan and should be the national official language. That said all languages including Bengali which now has a large population should be given status of official languages with relevant documents and laws being translated into them, official invites being made in at least three languages at provincial level Urdu and at least two other languages, Court proceedings being made on basis of preferred languages of the plaintiff and defendant with verdicts being given in the same. Urdu however, is the first step in a long journey.Recommend

  • Faseeh ur Rehman
    Sep 9, 2015 - 9:00AM

    This, if done at the time constitution was drafted was a good step. Now it can open lingual debate in all the provinces as was there in eastern Pakistan that led to the separation. English was official language and was accepted by all the provinces without any prejudice as it was used internationally. This judgement is not the application of juristic mind rather seems the outcome of sentimentsRecommend

  • mrashidhai
    Sep 9, 2015 - 9:25AM

    I have been to Indonesia for the last 4 months to see my son, and had been to Malaysia for 15 days. We all know about the advancement of Malaysia, but Indonesia is also an advanced country as Malaysia in no comparison to Pakistan. Both of these countries has their own official national languages. Very few people could understand English and even fewer who could speak English. Their entire education system is based on their national languages. Both Indonesia and Malaysia has hundreds of regional languages but their official language is one and only one. There is no rivalry between their regional and national languages.
    If supreme court of Pakistan has given a verdict for the implementation of one national language, we should welcome it and not to make it controversial. Recommend

  • AA
    Sep 9, 2015 - 10:31AM

    @Junaid Jamshed Khan: Joker, it is a NATIONAL language. Meaning the majority of the nation can speak/understand it. Can you understand Balochi or Sindhi?Recommend

  • sahil
    Sep 9, 2015 - 12:48PM

    @Junaid Jamshed Khan:
    no, all these languages should be official Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi, Kashmiri, Brahui, Shina, Balti, Khowar, Dhatki, Marwari, Wakhi, Memoni and BurushaskiRecommend

  • Radhika
    Sep 9, 2015 - 2:05PM

    @Junaid Jamshed Khan. Completely agree with you. This is a useless judgment and will not be implemented. It will throw Pakistan into the dark ages. As the world moves towards Lingua Franca, even the Chinese want to learn English, SC judges are not fixing everyday problems but focusing on the wrong issues and bringing to bear their own insecurities. Recommend

  • ali tonio
    Sep 11, 2015 - 9:35AM

    This is another step towards stone-age.we’ll no more be part of global village.this wd mean the future generations will not be able to understand english.ask those nations who cant speak english when they see a foreigner in their country they beg him to teach few words of english so that they feel connected to the world.Recommend

  • Ali
    Sep 13, 2015 - 3:15PM

    They teach english just as a language. All their science books are in their own languages in Germany,Japan,Korea etc and when the leaders of these countries visit any other country, they always have a translator with them, they never speak english.
    If you want to go to Germany for higher studies, you have to learn german first. There are some private institutes which offer courses in english but vast majority of universities offer courses in German only.

    English aik barrier hai, SC ka faisla bilkul sahi hai, pakistan ko ghulami ki soch badal leni chahiye agar agay barhna hai to.Recommend

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