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Is discarding English altogether a too tough task?

ISLAMABAD -- The recent Supreme Court verdict has thrown into sharp focus the status of Urdu as the official language of Pakistan.

But even a cursory look at the ground realities would make it crystal

clear that replacing English with Urdu in official business, from top to bottom, would need a yeoman's effort and much time to achieve this Supreme Court-sanctioned goal.

Moreover, it is every citizen's dream to see the national leaders delivering their speeches in Urdu at the United Nations or other international forums.

Spokesperson of National Language Authority (NLA), Dr. Rashid Hameed, referred to a cabinet approval of immediate steps in this regard on July 2, 2015.

These steps also include that the president, prime minister and other federal government officials should make their speeches in Urdu not only in the country but abroad as well.

Notwithstanding the difficulties in making Urdu the fully-functional official language, article 251 clause 1 of the 1973 Constitution says The National language of Pakistan is Urdu, and arrangements shall be made for its being used for official and other purposes within 15 years from the commencing day.

Dr. Rashid Hameed, who is also the Focal Person for Implementation of Urdu as an official language, held the previous governments responsible for failing to implement the Article 251 of the Constitution.

Efforts to give Urdu its due share in national life aside, English has also taken firm roots in Pakistani society-Just imagine parents too eager to get their kids educated in English-medium institutions and thriving English-language press and literature in Pakistan.

On the top of that, there is little doubt that English has gained ascendancy as an international language which has also widest its use as a language for higher studies not just in science and technology but also in other subjects.

This fact puts the Nation on virtual tight-rope walking how to keep a balance between making Urdu as the official language and maintaining English as our outlet to contacts with the outside world, especially western world.

Starting out as a colonial legacy at the time of independence, English language has taken giant strides to establish itself as the Lingua Franca of the world, say the experts.

Due to linguistic globalization, the role of English could not be ignored as it has become 'lingua franca' across the globe and a 'loaded weapon' for jobs, science, technology, research and higher education, according to Head of English Language Centre (ELC), International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI), Dr. Mohammad Sheeraz.

Managing Director, National Book Foundation, Prof. Dr. Inamul Haq Javaid, said the switching over of Urdu language is a slow process and it is not possible to make it happen overnight.

Dr. Sheeraz further said there is a need to create public awareness and run campaigns for promoting Urdu as an official language.

But, there is indeed no lack of protagonists for Urdu language.

Chairman Pakistan Academy of Letters, Prof. Dr. Mohammad Qasim said, Urdu should have been developed at par with English to qualify for official language during the 15 years time period given in the Constitution.

He, however, termed the non-serious attitude and non-technical staff in the relevant organizations responsible for failing to make the ground work such as 'Status Planning, Corpus Planning, and Acquisition Planning' for making Urdu as an official language.

Meanwhile, the National Language Authority has published numerous books for official use of Urdu language and translated thousands of forms into Urdu language for making its use easy in the offices.

The National Book Foundation has also established a cell for offering services in drafting and translation of Urdu.

Head of Urdu department, IIUI, Dr. Tayyab Munir said, China, Korea, Japan, and France have developed their languages to progress and compete with other international languages.

The government too has constituted a seven-member Federal Cabinet Committee for Implementation of Urdu as an official language.

The committee has ordered to translate laws, rules, forms, driving licenses, utility bills, passport, websites, sign boards and other documents into Urdu within three months.

The question arises: Will we be able to keep a balance between English and Urdu
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Publication:The Frontier Star (Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan)
Date:Oct 5, 2015
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