In 1973, a constitution was passed stating that English will not be used as an official language in government and semi-government organizations. The terms and details were disclosed in Article 251 but this was not implemented in the way it was supposed to be. All the documents, official letters and issues continued to be published and presented in English for a long time. On 14th May 2015, it was again decided at a cabinet meeting to implement what Article 251 states and the prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, also signed an order in regard to this matter.
While English is an international language and removes language barriers between most countries, here are a few reasons why I believe that implementation of Article 251 is necessary:
Keeping home language alive: After independence in 1947, Urdu was declared as the national language of Pakistan and if government officials use English to communicate with Pakistani citizens in the form of verbal speech or written documents, Urdu may have negligible importance in near future. Although only around 8% of total Pakistani citizens speak Urdu, majority of them can speak and understand the language very well. Also, using Urdu on foreign occasions will show the world that the importance of Urdu for Pakistanis has not diminished since the day of independence.
Encouraging Unity: In many provincial offices in Sindh and Punjab, government officials use their provincial language to deliver any message or publish documents. Strict implementation of article 251 will encourage unity by persuading such officials to use Urdu no matter where in Pakistan they live. All provincial and national matters will be drafted in home language, bills, official documents and everything else published by any government within Pakistan will be in Urdu and language differences will gradually vanish.
An incentive to learn Urdu: Since the names of all government parks, hospitals, schools, courts and other properties will be written in Urdu, citizens who cannot read Urdu at all due to geographic or environmental reasons will make an effort to learn basic Urdu so that they are able to read the names of government properties. Also, attaching so much importance to Urdu means that now the exam for Central Superior Services (CSS) will have a separate Urdu section to ensure that all government officials speak their home language fluently.
While I strongly support the idea of implementing Article 251, it may lead to several problems including:
Ignoring the real talent: If, say, Urdu becomes an essential part of the competitive examination to join the civil service, any candidate who pursued higher education from abroad will be at a disadvantage. This means that he cannot bring in new ideas to the government that he learnt in another country.
Language barriers on foreign visits: Finally, when Urdu will be used as a mode of communication and speeches in foreign visits, it will create a barrier in communication since no other country understands or speaks Urdu.
I hope that since the decision is now taken, it is actually implemented and not ignored as it was in and after 1973. It can largely create a positive impact on Pakistan and its citizens.