It was very kind of the United States Vice President Mike Pence to inform Pakistan that it has been put on notice, quite a few months after having already done that.

Although official protocols, and basic professional etiquettes, suggest that the announcement should be done via an email sent by the HR department – or if push comes to shove, through a one-on-one conversation in the cabin.

It is perhaps this breach of protocol that prompted the reactions from the Foreign Office first and then the Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani issued words of dissent apropos of the aforementioned notice.

A front page news in this publication also suggests that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has actually disowned Rabbani over those words.

Words, of course, are very important and form almost the entirety of notices and the expressions of dissent thereafter. And it is those words of the American notice that have clearly irked Islamabad.

For, Mr Pence’s words, and in turn those of the counter-condemnations, were in English. Such is the disconnect between the two parties that the issuer isn’t even aware that the subject no longer entertains any notices in English.

The lingua franca, rather the lingua chinois, has long been fixed as Chinese. And henceforth, all notices are to be issues in Chinese, apart from those that come from the Arabian Peninsula, which of course are to be in Arabic – but not only are the translations for them available in ubiquitously understood languages of brotherhood and ideology, they come at such regular intervals, and for so many years, that one doesn’t even need to open them.

Pakistan, of course, has been very particular when it comes to languages issued to convey notices – both inwards and outwards.

Since 1947, domestically the notices were sent out in Urdu to all regions of the state that did not have Urdu speakers as the majority – which coincidentally was the entire state.

The first such notice in Urdu was issued regarding Urdu itself in the eastern wing. Notices of a similar variety were sent out in the peripheries of the western wing itself to internalize the regions.

The most important centripetal step in this regard was to make the linguistic majority in the western wing disown their language and adapt Urdu.

But once the western wing metamorphosed into the only wing, it became important to bring a second layer to the flow of notices, fortifying and diversifying the hitherto monolithic international line.

And so, Arabic notices began coming thick and fast in the 1970s. Those notices dripping in newfound oil helped the surge in English notices over the next few decades.

And while the notices in Chinese have coexisted with English and the Arabic ones through all these years, in recent times – especially since 2015 – they are now at the forefront.

This is true to a point where the English notices might soon become redundant – an eventuality that Mr Pence has been kind enough to accelerate.

But one must appreciate Islamabad’s prudent linguistic policy throughout these years, in how it has stayed true to the language of the world, which now without a shadow of a doubt is Chinese.

For those worried about the potential backlash and ramifications of binning, even if proverbially, the English notices – especially the economic upshots – only need to be told that Pakistan would be making a mammoth 9% of the income from the lifeline corridor via Gwadar port over the next four decades.

For those focusing more on the 91% than the 9% and look at the next four decades instead of the previous four, let it be known that the project we are talking about has an investment worth $62 billion.

Please calculate the 9% of that at your earliest convenience.

Also, there’s a cheap Chinese language course not far from where you’re sitting right now. Google it. It will cost much less than 9% of your income.

 

n          The writer is a Lahore-based journalist.

For, Mr Pence’s words, and in turn those of the counter-condemnations, were in English. Such is the disconnect between the two parties that the issuer isn’t even aware that the subject no longer entertains any notices in English.