Language is one of the most powerful tools of living a social life. From the day this universe was created, human beings communicated with each other in different ways, which helped in the development of language. Language is not just a mode of communication but it is also the main source of self-expression.

The Constitution of Pakistan (1973) clearly stated the adoption of Urdu as the official language in the next 15 years. The time period of those 15 years completed in 1988 but no practical steps were taken in this regard and English remained the official language.

Recently, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the current Nawaz government to immediately adopt Urdu as the official language of Pakistan. Federal government departments have been asked to translate all their policies and rules in Urdu in a short period of 3 months.

This ruling started a debated throughout the country - whether we should stick to English which is an international Lingua Franca or enforce Urdu, which is a symbol of our national heritage and our identity.

Enforcing Urdu as an official language might open up doors for the revival of Urdu culture but this sudden change in official language can act as a hurdle for smooth functioning of different offices. Since English is an international language, imposing Urdu can be a drawback for the effective working of international projects.

According to CIA’s official website, Urdu is the first language of about 8% of Pakistanis, especially the population that migrated from India. The largest spoken language of Pakistan is Punjabi which is also the mother tongue of 45% population living in Pakistan.

If we compare Urdu with other regional and international languages, it does not have rich etymological resources. The main reason is that Urdu is a mixture of different languages such as Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. English is the primary language of science and technology. If we adopt Urdu as an official language, we have to translate everything in Urdu which can prove to be a daunting task. Over the years, Urdu has adopted many words from the English language like school, ticket, files, etc. These words are now part of the Urdu language and it is hard to translate everything in Urdu.

This decision taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan can take us 180 degree opposite from the rest of the world as English is the predominant source of communication around the world. If we implement this decision of Supreme Court, the President, the Prime Minister, and other high officials that represent Pakistan internationally, will not only make speeches, but also communicate, in Urdu. Also, we are not a superpower like our neighbor China as their native language, Chinese, is one of the most widely spoken language in the world and they have enough strong economy that can dictate the world on their own terms.

The main drawback that we will face in the next few years after imposing Urdu as the official language is that if we start focusing on Urdu in offices, then ultimately our educational institutions will focus on Urdu as compared to English. It will definitely benefit students who want to establish their career in Pakistan but what will happen to those who want to go abroad through scholarships and exchange programs. Every student is bound to give tests like IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, etc., in order to check their English proficiency. This is not possible until we have command over the English language. We have to consider this fact that a translator can go with Prime Minister and President but not with a student.

After analyzing all these points, I would recommend that 3 months’ time is too short to replace our official language with Urdu. If they want to stick to their decision, then they should implement but through a gradual, step-by-step process. On the other hand, we should not erase English from offices as it is a language that plays a vital role in internationalization of our already fringe position in this world.