Seventy years on, a fraught question still troubles Pakistan: Should Urdu be its official language?

A patriotic song raises through speakers placed on either side of the stage. The Urdu song that is translated terrorist was produced and issued by the army’s public relations department in response to the attack on the army’s public school in 2014 in Peshawar.

The audience, a joyful mix of men, women and children, gathered for the Muttahida Nifaz-e-urdu conference. All await the guest of honor inside Aiwan-e-Quaid in Fatima Jinnah Islamabad park on the morning of July 24, 2016.

The atmosphere of the place is generous. On the outside, it is opulent and humid although it rained the night before and gave drink in the morning. A flag folded on one side asks:

“If we are a nation, then where is the national language?” Another says: “Mohsin-e-urdu Justice Jawwad S Khawaja jura’at ki Salaam (hello to the value of the benefactor Jawwad S Khawaja Urdu).”

The event, set up to call for adoption of Urdu as the official language of Pakistan, becomes a protracted ovation while Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, a nuclear scientist instead.

Speakers highlighted after Urdu reinforces Pakistan’s ideological foundations (even if it is a mother tongue of about 8% of people in a country of nearly $ 200 million). It is also the language of Islam, according to the majority.

At one point, a teacher stands up from the audience and said that Arabic should be mandatory in schools. In this regard, some people in the back start shouting “Urdu ko Karo band (closed Urdu).”

While some speakers also advocated making Arabic the means of instruction, others related to the subject. None of them, however, renounce Arabic.

When Abdul Qadeer Khan made his speech, it is admitted that he could not do the atomic bomb if he had not learned English. He, however, insists that Urdu unites people and it is imperative that we become “proactive in their application.”

He is joined on stage by Irfan Siddiqui, the prime minister’s adviser on national history and literary heritage. An Urdu veteran columnist, who is known to have the ear of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“I have a spiritual connection with Urdu. I have studied, taught and written Urdu,” he said to emphasize his affinity with language. But, he adds, he can not implement Urdu as the official language because “it’s not part of my job.”

Abdullah Gul, son of former Spanish general Master Pro-Taliban Hamid Gul, apologizes for being late. It was chosen by a delegation that saw the name of the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani without prior notice, it is considered that it is necessary to inform the public.

Then a television interview is mentioned. “I told Al Jazeera that Urdu is the second most spoken language in the world. It should start a chain.” Once the food was announced, the crowd exploded in the hallway.

Chicken skewers shami pulao and in polystyrene foam boxes are distributed in a hurry by volunteers and people to find a suitable place to eat their meals, heat.

The 1973 Constitution recognizes Urdu as the only national language of Pakistan. It also promises to become the state’s official language. Article 251 of the Constitution states that “[Urdu] measures shall be taken to be used for official and other purposes for [the next 15 years].”

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