Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered all official engagements to be held in Urdu. According to an official notification, the initiative is aimed at promoting the language and giving due respect to the national language.
According to the notification, “The prime minister has been pleased to desire that henceforth all the programs events/ceremonies, arranged for the prime minister, shall be conducted in the national (Urdu) language”.
The statement issued by the PM’s Office read:
Further necessary action to implement the above directions of the prime minister shall be taken by all concerned accordingly.
In September 2015, the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) had ordered Urdu to be adopted as the official language at all the government departments. The three-member full bench of the SCP, chaired by the then-Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Jawwad S Khawaja, had announced its judgment over the petitions seeking to adopt Urdu as the official language of the government.
Calling for the immediate implementation of Article 251, the apex court had issued nine guidelines to make Urdu the official language. Despite Urdu being the national language, English had remained the official language that has been used for official communique and paperwork.
According to Article 251, the national language of Pakistan is Urdu and arrangements shall be made for it to be used as the official and other purposes ‘within fifteen years from the commencing day’. It has been nearly 48 years since the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan, including Article 251, was passed, but these measures have not been taken.
Article 251 reads: “Subject to clause (1), English language may be used for official purposes until arrangements are made for its replacement by Urdu”.
It also specifies that the provincial assemblies can take measures to use regional languages besides the national language.
“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”.
It is pertinent to mention that despite being the national language, hardly seven percent of the population comprises native Urdu speakers.