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Overview of Article 251 of the Constitution of Pakistan
The Constitution of Pakistan, established in 1973, serves as the foundational legal document of the country. Among its myriad articles, Article 251 stands out as a pivotal provision addressing the national language and its role in official matters. This article delineates the trajectory for the adoption of Urdu as the national language and the gradual transition away from English in official capacities.
Article 251 States
251. National language
- The National language of Pakistan is Urdu, and arrangements shall be made for its being used for official and other purposes within fifteen years from the commencing day.
- Subject to clause (1), the English language may be used for official purposes until arrangements are made for its replacement by Urdu.
- Without prejudice to the status of the National language, a Provincial Assembly may by law prescribe measures for the leaching, promotion and use of a Provincial language in addition to the National language.
Key Points of Article 251 of the Constitution of Pakistan
- National Language Designation: Urdu is officially declared as the national language in Pakistan.
- Official Use of Urdu: The article outlines a timeline for making Urdu the language for official and other purposes within fifteen years.
- Interim Use of English: English can be used for official purposes until Urdu takes its place as the primary language.
- Provincial Autonomy: Provincial Assemblies have the authority to enact laws promoting the use of provincial languages, recognizing their importance alongside the national language.
Crux of Article 251 of the Constitution of Pakistan
At its core, Article 251 reflects the delicate balance between preserving linguistic diversity and fostering a unified national identity in Pakistan. Urdu, with its deep cultural roots, is acknowledged as the binding force that unites the diverse regions and communities within the country. The gradual transition outlined in the article aims to accommodate linguistic variations while ensuring a smooth and systematic shift towards Urdu in official discourse.
The provision granting Provincial Assemblies the power to legislate language measures adds a layer of flexibility. This recognizes the unique linguistic landscapes in different regions of Pakistan, allowing for the promotion of provincial languages without undermining the status of Urdu as the national language.
Conclusion: Article 251 of the Constitution of Pakistan
In conclusion, Article 251 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 lays the groundwork for linguistic harmony and national integration. It signifies a commitment to Urdu as the national language while respecting the linguistic richness of the provinces. The careful phrasing of the article, allowing for an interim period during which English remains in use for official purposes, reflects a pragmatic approach to a linguistic transition.
As the years have passed since the adoption of the constitution, Article 251 remains a cornerstone in shaping the linguistic landscape of Pakistan. It represents a nuanced understanding of the role language plays in national identity and governance. By granting provinces the autonomy to preserve and promote their languages, the article fosters a sense of inclusivity within the broader framework of a unified Pakistan.