Mir Moiz’s Weblog

Life is meaningful, only when one wishes to make it. We are creatures of time and we’ll wither away in it. The little moments of joy we find and create are all that will live with us.

Language Fervor

Recently with the promulgation of laws that dictate the use of Urdu as the constitutionally directed state language. Government has started a program targeting its implementation in a 15 year span. The supreme court penned the rulings and now the government has this challenge upon its head.

While its being discussed and most people are beginning to come to terms with this change over agenda. I am reviewing a few articles in the local and international press that highlight the degree to which this would not be a good move. Pointing to the consideration that Punjabi, Sindhi and other provincial languages have more of a majority than Urdu and thus it would not be a prudent move. Some even saying that English is an international medium of exchange and so it should be kept as is and this aspect should not be touched as its very complex.

I have a few thoughts to reflect upon.

While as a ‘language’ the various majority and minority differences can be brought up to make comparatives there are a few ground realities that need to be evaluated as well.

For one ‘script’. Urdu shares in the similarity of script used for all provincial languages, far more different from English. In similar ways as you will see many European languages use a script that is similar.

This fact in itself is worth pondering over for script enables connectivity of cultures.
Even though provincial languages are numerical majority, the fact that they are in place and at the same when they do speak other languages they all speak easily in Urdu shows very clearly how Urdu already serves the role it was set out to play when Quaid e Azam placed it in that role as a national representative.

The script with its regional history ties in all the rest of the provincial languages more so than English would be or should be able to achieve.
A fact that can certainly be seen clearly when you go to any of the provincial cities and find out that if in speaking with the common man there, you would not know the provincial language, you can always easily speak in Urdu – Not English.
This is true for Punjab, Sindh, KPK, Baluchistan both in Urban and Rural settings.
Variance will be present from place to place in the degree to which this can be seen but in a stark comparison to English this fact will certainly stand out loud and clear.

Another point I would like to make is with respect to comparative advantage.
While English has taken its role as an international language. Europe did not bag it’s regional languages. We see Dutch, German, French, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian etc… along with their dialectal variances still in use within these locals, all the while English ties them all together despite the fact that English has no majority in Dutch areas, as an example!

The need for a national language is paramount because nations are still a reality of today and will remain for a very very long time.

Pakistan needs to find a national identity that is not rooted into majority or minority but rather an inclusive balance of both.

Promulgating Urdu as the national language will certainly be very challenging and may take longer to realistically implement perhaps even over the next 30 years but doing so will create a far more inclusive approach for the provincial representations from urban and rural settings than English can ever achieve.

The script makes it easier to relate, and the already present alternative use across Pakistan in all ethnic divides is a basis for this ideal.

Pakistan needs a national consensus now to shape national unity and harmony.
Those who had migrated are simply asserting this need for the larger groups, nothing more.

We need a country that opens its doors to all that share the script. Advocating Urdu on a national level along side English, and advocating Provincial languages in representative provinces to ensure that similarity of the script creates a easier path for all to prosper.

English has the strength in itself to continue the international agenda. Those who will feel the need will continue to leverage its power regardless. Same as is the case all over Europe.

Urdu is central to a national unity platform that provides the similarity of script and it’s history as a basis for national cohesion.
That is very important. This is why the Quaid made this decision for Pakistan.


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