Urdu Dilemma of Pakistan


The summon of the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued on 8th September, 2015 regarding the immediate implementation of article 251 of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan made a stir in both government and private sectors. Mixed opinions have emerged after the SC’s order that has compelled the government institutions to make arrangements for replacing the current official language (English) with the national language of Pakistan (Urdu). The Article 251, however, allows the government officials to take their time, decidedly a span of about fifteen years, to implement Urdu completely as the official language.

Following this summon, a new debate has commenced in all circles concerning the future of Urdu and English in Pakistan, both being considered not just as languages but legacies – one of Mughal Era and the other of British Colony. One party is of the view that to honour the national language, it should be the number one priority at all national levels while the other school of thought considers English an essential step in the progress and development of Pakistan.

The politically well-aware  and well-opinionated youth of Pakistan, however, seems to have adopted a rather free-of-confusion stance. The youth, that became particularly politicized owing to the 2013 elections, now looks forward to the implementation of the order of SC. Interesting as it may sound, the well-educated young lot of Pakistan who have, for quite some time, born the tag of ‘burgers’ because of their adopting the western culture as well as the western language, are cherishing and supporting the order deciding the fate of Urdu as an official language.

This over-whelming support of youth for Urdu is not a random sentiment but a slogan of change. 

Pakistan, just like most of the ex-British colonies, has failed to overcome to effect of colonialism on the mental and social level. This failure is evident from the fact that even after 67 years of physical freedom from British colonialism, the most clever tactic here for acing a job interview is not your skill at work but your fluency in English language. The dual education system of Pakistan, comprising of Urdu and English medium schools is producing individuals drenched in either inferiority or superiority complex based upon how well they are at spoken and written English.

The youth today, rebellious as they are, have become more sensitive and sensible towards the system forcing Urdu language to deterioration. You may find them dressed as westerners, speaking English in fluency yet finding it difficult to deliver a 5 minute Urdu talk without the aid of English words, thanks to the same education system which discontinues Urdu as a subject after high-school in science majors but still stresses on English for good GPA, but this complex-stricken youth has long developed the sense and urge for keeping their culture and language alive. Although some have already shifted from Charles Dickens to Mantoo, others who find themselves incapable of disentangling themselves from the chaos of cultures and languages merged into one another are looking up to the SC’s decision for a better future of Urdu and for a system that inculcates in the coming generations, a pride for their national language.

All in all, in the present scenario, the youth cherishing the to-be official langauge is itself a symbol of resistance. Resistance against the enforced culture, colonized system and prejudice against the nation’s own language! 

Asma Rasool Peerzada


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