Urdu and Regional Languages


Pakistan Studies 2059

Urdu and Regional Languages

Urdu and Regional Languages


Urdu – As the National Language: 

Urdu has an extensive history and association with Muslims. 
It is the language that the Mughal and Sultans of Delhi used during their rule in Delhi. 
By the end of the thirteenth century, it was used among Muslim armies. 
It was a language that was widely used and understood by Muslims. 
Another reason is its high status, Urdu has produced many great poets including Amir Khusrou.
• The Aligarh School of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan also played a major role in the promotion of Urdu language for Muslims. 
One undeniable reason, for choosing Urdu as the national language is its close association with the Pakistan Movement. 
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan also supported Urdu, and the Muslim League was established with a purpose to defend Muslims and the Urdu language. 
Quran and many religious books have been translated into Urdu. 
Quaid-e-Azam also considered Urdu as a force to unite Muslims. 

Advantages of Choosing Urdu: 

• Urdu was treated as the symbol of unity among the Muslims making it eligible to be Pakistan’s national language as it is a country made for Muslims. 

Disadvantages of Choosing Urdu: 

The selection of Urdu later became the building block for the separation of East Pakistan (Bangladesh). 
It was considerably new to Pakistan and considering the people, it was a language only for 8% of the population. 
Its adoption as a national language contributed to the decline of other regional languages.  

Development of Urdu Since 1947: 

Urdu has been the widely used language in the national media including newspapers, radio, and television. Media plays a crucial role in the development of Urdu since people use it for information and entertainment. 
In many schools and institutions, Urdu is used as the medium of instruction developing student’s interest in Urdu. 
Urdu is taught till Ph.D. level in various institutions allowing extensive scholar research and exploring different aspects of poetry and prose. 
It is also the official language to be used in courts helping its promotion as each judgment and proceedings are done in it. 
It is a compulsory subject till class 12th promoting the interest of students in its literature.  
Urdu mushairas also play an integral role in the promotion of Urdu as it helps frequently where poets recite their writings and get an appreciation for their work. 


Sindhi has its share of history and it is older Urdu. 
It has produced many famous poets such as Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Sachal Sarmast, and Shah Inayat Rizvi. 
Today Sindhi is spoken, same as it was spoken in the twelfth century. 
It follows the Arabic script and borrowed many words from it. 
It is also influenced by Persian. 


Sindhi literacy board was set up to promote Sindhi after independence in 1947. 
Various books and magazines have been written in Sindhi. 
The Bazm –e –Talib –ul –Maula also helped in the promotion and development of Sindhi by attracting more readers. 
As a tribute to Sachal Sarmast, the Dramatist Academy was founded that helped in the promotion of Sindhi by printing Sachal Sarmast’s writings. 
In Sindh University, Jamshoro, Sindhi is taught till M.A level helping students take more interest in the language. 
In Sindh schools, Sindhi is a compulsory subject. 


Steps to promote Balochi has also been taken after independence as it is the language that is spoken in Pakistan’s largest province, Balochistan. 
There are two types of Balochi, one is ‘Mekrani’ and other, ‘Sulemanki’. 
Balochi was originally brought to Balochistan by the people who migrated from North-West Iran.  
The people who brought Balochi were nomadic (always traveling), therefore Balochi didn’t develop as much as it should. 
Jam Darang and Atta Shad are famous Balochi poets. 


The Balochi Literary Association was founded, it helped in the promotion of Balochi by monthly and weekly magazines publications such as Ollasis and Nan Kissan. 
News and entertainment programs are broadcasted in Quetta and Karachi televisions for the promotion of the language. 
Radio Pakistan also broadcasted programs in Balochi to promote it. 


Statistically, as of 2008, 44.17% population speak Punjabi while only 7.59% of people speak Urdu. 
Punjabi is the regional language that is spoken more than Urdu.  
It is the language that is spoken in Punjab mostly. 
It follows the Arabic script. 
Sufi Poets use Punjabi for their writings. Famous Sufi literature music includes Bulley Shah. 
It has a famous and extensive literature including Sohni-Mahiwal and Heer-Ranjha. 


Philosophy, Science, Law, and History are just a few of the subjects whose books have been printed and published in it. 
It a popular language in theaters, radio and film industry. Many movies have been made and helped in the promotion of the language. 
It is taught till M.Phil, developing an interest in students and scholar to research its literature. It also helped in modernizing the language. 
Muhammad Ali Faiq translated the Holy Quran in Punjabi language and helped in the promotion of the language on the religious aspect. Today, people of Punjab like to read the Punjabi translation of the Quran with more interest.  
Punjabi Mushairas also held in Punjab frequently that help in the promotion of the language and helps the poets to further make their contribution to the language. 


The people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (previously known as NWFP) and northern Balochistan use this language. 
Pushto is influenced by Arabic, Persian, and Greek. 
It is an old language with a vast history. 
It played an integral role in opposing British rule. 
Pushto became a symbol of unity in NWFP and helped in the freedom movement. 
Bayazaid Ansari and Amir Khan are the well-known poets who made their contributions to the language. 


Peshawar University was established to promote the language with the first three years after independence. 
It has been taught till M.A level in Peshawar University to help develop an interest of students and scholars in its literature research. It helped in modernizing the language. 
In 1954, an Academy was established to promote the language. It assembled a Pushto dictionary to help more people understand the language better.

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