Urdu on way to becoming Pakistan's official language

'Colonial' English to be replaced in official documents, pronouncements, Supreme Court rules

Urdu on way to becoming Pakistan's official language

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan

Urdu is on its way to becoming Pakistan’s official language, replacing “colonial” English, after a Supreme Court order was issued Tuesday.

Three judges passed the judgment following a petition by a local lawyer.

“In the governance of the federation and the provinces there is hardly any necessity for the use of the colonial language which cannot be understood by the public at large,” Chief Justice Jawad S. Khawaja said.

Although Urdu is Pakistan’s main language, all official communication is conducted in English.

“The time thus spent is quite wasteful because a lot of energy is dedicated to deciphering the language of the noting itself rather than understanding its content or substance,” Khawaja, who was the first chief justice of the Supreme Court to swear his oath of office in Urdu, said.

“This wasteful exercise at times results in absurd and farcical outcomes, which would be wholly avoided by use of the national language.”

The court ordered the government to submit an initial report on the progress of switching to Urdu within three months.

In July, the federal government said all senior ministers and the president would deliver their speeches in Urdu, whether in Pakistan or abroad.

Urdu - a mix of Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Hindi - evolved following Turkic and Persian invasions of the Indus region from the 11th century onwards.

Modern Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and is spoken by millions in India.

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