Although the only national language of the state and mother tongue of millions, Urdu is having a hard time in Pakistan. The nation’s romance with English is more than seven decades old. And it is hard to imagine that it will end after the next seven decades. Urdu is being discriminated against in its own country and by its people the Muslims. It is the language that had an important role in laying down the foundations of the Two Nations Theory as well as Pakistan. The Muslims of India were so much attached to this language that they felt their identity threatened when the Hindus tried to replace it with Sanskrit as an official language. When Pakistan came into being, the Urdu lover Muslims were happy that their language had found its home at last. However, it is still alien in Pakistan, while English remains widely dominant across the country. Why Urdu could not become Pakistan’s official and educational language? The question merits deep enquiry into the nation’s psychological, economic and political life.
The nation has not yet weaned itself from colonial mentality. It is in human nature that he gets inspired by his superiors. Why is that? People think that their superiors are at high positions because of their lifestyle. To achieve their level, they follow them blindly. The British ruled the Sub-continent of India for almost one hundred and fifty good years. They ruled by force and power. They inspired Indian people by their scientific progress and military dominance over them. The English overlords created a system in which command on their language was the only way to progress. Now, the British have long gone away, but they left this notion behind that only English guarantees upward mobility in life. This false belief is now deep ingrained in the psyche of the masses.
Urdu speakers cannot get decent jobs based on their ability to speak good Urdu. For high-paying jobs, well-educated people are in demand. And well-educated is usually meant a fluent English speaker. It is an irony that people consider only those individuals savvy who speak proficient English. As a result, learning English becomes an economic compulsion. Students are so much enforced to learn English that every other subject, including the Urdu language, takes the second position in their priority list. Had there been such focus on Urdu as is on English, the masses would have been learning Urdu more than anything else. To cut long story short, people are being economically enforced by the state to learn English and forget Urdu.
Other than psychological and economic reasons, English is preferred over Urdu because of a political reason. Urdu is a language for communication. It is not associated with any specific ethnicity or region. From Karachi to Khunjarab and from Afghanistan to India, It is understood and spoken almost in all regions of South Asia. If all government offices in Pakistan had used Urdu as an official language, the masses would have been politically aware of their rights and duties. In that case, political elites could not keep them devoid of their rights. Hence, to maintain the status quo, it is vital to communicate with them in a language that they do not understand. To put it simply, Urdu is being mistreated only to keep people politically immature.
Thus, Urdu is being ignored because of psychological, economic and political reasons. The world is changing fast. Today’s Pakistan is 21st century Pakistan. To keep abreast with other nations, it needs to tap its full potential. This can only be possible by adopting Urdu as an official and educational language because people can perform well in every avenue of life if they express themselves through their language. Besides, Urdu may change the fate of this nation. It may serve as an agent of political awareness among the masses. Only a politically mature nation progresses by leaps and bounds.
Author: Amir Iqbal
-Writer’s view may not necessarily reflect views of the Moderate Thoughts Research Center.