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Language policy in Pakistan

Language always been a crucial issue for Pakistan which also caused the lost of its
major part Bangladesh, but still prevail in its roots with same adversity as still no
permanent and acceptable to all solution is found.
Pakistan is a multilingual and multiethnic country with six major and over 57small
languages. However, the languages of the domains of power (government),
corporate sector, media and education etc are Urdu and English. Urdu, which is
also not spoken by big number of the population, is the national language while
English is the official language. The small languages are under tremendous
pressure some of which have become extinct. While others are about to extinct
because of the states favoring Urdu and English at the expense of others.
Urdu is spoken by the people who migrated from India to Pakistan at the time of
partition. They are called Mohajirs, which itself is an Urdu word meaning
(refugees) or (settlers). Almost all of them settled in urban Sindh, southern
province of Pakistan. Since they were educated they dominated the bureaucracy
of Pakistan. Now that Urdu has become the language of domain of power,
indigenous people have to learn Urdu and English, which is the official language
to get a job in public and private sectors. Thus indigenous languages lost their
vitality for their own people for pragmatic reasons. Members of the elite class
had a stake in the continuation of English because it differentiated them from the
masses and constituted a class-identity marker. Thus Urdu and English depict the
elite while indigenous languages to a lower status where they became a stigma
instead of repertoires of local knowledge.
Pakistan emerged as an independent Muslim state in 1947 when India was
partitioned after the British left the subcontinent as their colony. The major
ethnic groups that comprised the newly created state were Bengali, Punjabi,
Pashtuns, Sindhis and Balochs. Bengalis were more than 50% of the total
population, who in 1971 seceded from Pakistan to become Bangladesh.
Privileging Urdu at the expense of their language Bangla was one of the
grievances that led to the division of Pakistan on ethnic and linguistic lines.
Language policies have far-reaching educational, economic, and political effects.
In multiethnic countries like Pakistan, language policies can determine who has
access to schools, who has opportunities for economic advancement, who
participates in political decisions and who has access to jobs etc. Despite the
great diversity of languages and ethnicity in Pakistan. The government has paid
little attention to language as policy because of which some ethnic groups are
disproportionately powerful and advantage. Though only small number speak
Urdu. It has been privileged and must to cement the distinct ethnic groups into a
In 1947 soon after Pakistan was created an All Pakistan Education Conference was
held which recommended to the Constituent Assembly that Urdu should be
declared lingua franca of Pakistan and that it must be taught as a compulsory
subject in schools across the country. Soon after the conference Muhammad Ali
Jinnah, the first Governor General of Pakistan, and Prime Minister Liaquat Ali
Khan announced that Pakistan is a Muslim state and it must have its lingua franca,
a language of the Muslim nation. It is necessary for a nation to have one language
and that language can be Urdu and no other language.
This statement instead of cementing further divided the imagined nation when
Bengalis launched a language movement against the states language policy. Most
of Pakistans language problems grew out of regional linguistic groups taking
umbrage at the states insistence on making Urdu the national language. The
overarching problem in this regard was the governments unaccommodating
language policies.
Right from 1947 till date English has been the official language of Pakistan which
has further cornered regional languages. In 1973 the Parliament of Pakistan
unanimously passed a new constitution the first ever by an elected Parliament.
This constitution which after several amendments is still enforced in the country
has the following provisions about language in the country:
1. The national language of Pakistan is Urdu, and arrangements shall be made for
its being used for official and other purposes within fifteen years from the
commencing day.
2. English may be used for official purposes until arrangements are made for its
replacement by Urdu.
3. 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.
However despite the lapse of almost 60 years. Urdu has yet to replace English as
official language. A critical implementation issue for language policy is education.
Before the creation of Pakistan during the British colonial era the language in
education policy was that Urdu should be the medium of instruction for the
masses and that English should be the medium for the elite. Since 1947 Pakistan
has formed several education policies but their implementation has generally
failed to develop in line with policy. As the result of language policies of Pakistan,
the country is losing its cultural and linguistic diversity which is alienating the
young generation from their ancestors, their roots, their culture and their
essential self. They do not add useful skills they subtract from existing skills.
Languages are repertoire of indigenous knowledge. When a language becomes
extinct humanity loses one storage of knowledge. Therefore, to reverse the
language deficit Pakistan needs to adopt additive multilingualism. Fundamental
education should be imparted in national tongue. Not to be left behind in the
knowledge of science and technology, English should be added to the curricula.
The regional languages should be promoted on provisional level.


Presented to: Sir Shahzad Ahamad
Presented by: Sajida Parveen
Subject: History of English Language
Class: M.A E.LT( Evening)1


Presented to: Sir Ahmad Shahzad
Presented by: Sajida Parveen
Subject: Essay Writing
Class: M.A E.LT( Evening)1