Is this the death of the Urdu language?

Published: October 3, 2013

The way our young generation has distanced itself from Urdu, especially Urdu literature, is something to lament over. PHOTO: AFP

After reading Raza Rumi’s ‘Delhi by Heart’, I came across a touching phrase by Khurshid Afsar Bisrani,

“Ab urdu kya hai, ek kothay ki tawaif hai, mazaa har ek leta hai, mohabbat kam kartey hain.”

(What is Urdu, but a prostitute of a brothel, everyone takes advantage, but only few truly love her.)

This prompted me to pen down my feelings regarding the state of Urdu in daily life.

The way our young generation has distanced itself from Urdu, especially Urdu literature, is something to lament. Thanks to my upbringing, with both my parents being fond of reading Urdu, I have lived in an environment where quality reading has always been appreciated. Having seen books of Ashfaq AhmadBano QudsiaSaadat Hassan Manto, and others in my house, classical Urdu has always inspired me.

But what I see in my school (Lahore Grammar School) and university (LUMS) is pitiful.

During my high school years, most of the students in my class were unable to read even the most basic headlines from Urdu newspapers. O- Level Urdu, being a compulsory subject for further studies in Pakistan, was being offered in two different categories; Urdu as a first language (usually referred to as Urdu A) and Urdu as a second language (Urdu B). Around 80% of students in my school opted for Urdu B even though it was technically their first language, except for the few who had spent their early years abroad.

Those of us who were taking Urdu A were shifted to a small cabin with a few chairs encircled around our teacher, while the Urdu B group was taught in a normal classroom due to the necessity of larger space.

At LUMS, where I am currently a sophomore doing a Bachelors in Economics, the situation is no different. In this semester, I enrolled for the course ‘Iqbal’s Urdu poetry’. When I attended the first class, I was shocked to see that there were only about 20 students in a class that had an enrollment cap of more than 60.

The depressing part is that when I told my friends that I had taken this course as an elective, the reaction some of them gave me varied from shocked to sympathetic.

‘Hain? Kyun yar? Koi aur course nahi mila?’ 

(Huh? Why dude? Could you not find any other course?)

 ‘Ye bhi koi parhney wali cheez hai?’

(Is this even something worth studying?)

‘Urdu? Astaghfirullah!’

This exemplifies the value our current generation gives to Urdu, and what proportion of students enjoy attending such classes. Just to share another experience, during my first semester at the university, the Urdu department invited Dr Javed Iqbal (Allama Iqbal’s son) and Ataul Haq Qasmi (renowned columnist) at two different occasions.

In a university with over 4,000 students, both the events had less than 50 attendees. This was highly depressing.

By skipping out on Urdu, our children are unable to understand some of the greatest works in Urdu literature, such as that of Iqbal or Amir Khusro. What we see is people quoting English translations of Iqbal’s poetry, which often takes away its essence. The following verse, though initially written for Europe, beautifully explains my whole argument.

“Tumhari tehzeeb apney khanjar se aap hi khudkushi karey gi
Jo shakh-e-nazuk pe aashiyana baney ga, na paidaar ho ga”

(Your culture will destruct itself with its own dagger,

A nest built on a fragile branch shall never be stable)

No nation has ever progressed by working in someone else’s language. When we complain that our universities are not producing genuine scholars who make real breakthroughs in their respective fields, I believe that one of the reasons may be our detachment with our native language. As columnist and writer Orya Maqbool Jan says:

“You can learn in someone else’s language, but you cannot be creative in someone else’s language.”

I do not aim to downplay the importance of English in any sense. I only wish to point out that detaching ourselves from Urdu has cost us heavily. Studies on education systems have repeatedly shown that primary education of all subjects must be given in the mother tongue as the child is best able to absorb it at that age. However, because we have not done so, due to our inferiority complex, we have failed to develop even a liking for Urdu among our current generation.

Other than that, Urdu is the insignia of our culture. The unfortunate dilemma is that we find it ‘cool’ or trendy to dissociate ourselves from it. If we compare ourselves to other non-English speaking nations, such as Germany, France, China, and Japan etc, we can easily identify a deep sense of belonging instilled in them — one that we lack today because we are so confused.

Universities in these countries make sure that their courses are taught in their national language, with very few exceptions even up to the level of a PhD. Scholars from these countries are accepted, credited and appreciated all around the world.

Parents and our schooling system that encourage students to speak in English at all times are the reason our kids find it difficult to cope with the demands of the Urdu language. They develop a sense of loathing towards it, distance themselves from it and anyone who does in fact enjoy Urdu is looked down upon.

In a study on colonial education in the subcontinent, Under the Shadow of the Raj (2006), one of the respondents commented on Urdu saying,

“Yes, on reflection I do feel there were a lot of gaps, a whole chunk of Urdu language went missing! Unfortunately not having made a base in early schooling years one has never recovered, a major regret. Well, what to expect when one is fined for speaking Urdu! Yes, no trace of our history too. In fact a whole culture gone from our lives where our roots are embedded… very sad and almost lethal invasion of human minds.”

Lastly, the culture of reading in general, irrespective of language, has sharply declined. In fact, it wouldn’t be too far off to even go ahead and say that the habit of reading never truly blossomed in Pakistan. Students are loaded with course text books, leaving them both with less time and intellectual capacity to absorb any thing else. In this case, Urdu isn’t even a reading option for many kids out there.

Unless we start to take some pride in our national language, and derive a sense of belonging and unity from it, we will always be a confused nation on the brink of success, but never really there.

And if we continue as we are today, Urdu, along with our identity may eventually cease to exist.


Osama Sajid

An undergraduate student at LUMS who is pursuing Economics, he is interested in reading and researching Pakistan's cultural and political issues.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • no.

    This article is well written but you show a clear lack of appreciation for English. I mean, Urdu isnt even an original language, Mr.SajidRecommend

  • Arsalan

    Our media needs to be blamed too. There was a time when the language used in Urdu news & dramas was pure Urdu but now they have become bilingual and more and more Urdu words are getting replaced by their English alternatives with passage of time. I mean, do our Urdu news readers really need to use words “headlines”, “news”, “Army”, “border”, “airport” instead of their available Urdu alternatives? The news editors and drama writers should make sure than no English word is used. News/dramas should be either in English or Urdu, not a mixture of them.Recommend

  • Ashamed

    I completely agree! Unfortunately, I’m one of the people who took Urdu B and never paid attention to Urdu, until I left Pakistan and realised that every country apart from Pakistan pays great importance on their own language. The real tragedy is that when we meet a fellow Pakistani outside Pakistan most of us will not be able to speak only Urdu, but rather a mix of Urdu and English, while people from other countries will speak to their country-men in only their language. For most other countries not speaking being able to speak English is not a source of embarassment or a hindrance to living their life. These people are educated, well-travelled and open-minded, and never let language become a barrier to prove this.Recommend

  • JB

    There is no such term as ‘original language’. Languages are bound to evolve, and just to remind you, there’s a world of difference between evolve and dissolve!
    Urdu is a fine language with its distinct past and rich literature. Do read Ghalib, Anees, Dabeer, Iqbal, Faiz and other legendary poets (+authors) etc, and you will get to know how sweet this language is.

    Best Wishes!Recommend


    URDU IS MY MOTHER TOUNGHE.i love it like any thing

    Bt in case pakistan more than 50% native speKer is punjabi n 15% is sindhi . Native Urdu speakers are merely 5 % u can’t aspect much to learn frm punjabi sindhis.

  • Ovais

    The same happens in malaysia , singapore and all developing countries exporting human resources. The point is there is a disconnect between the burger youth and the common man and that is becuase of one or the others inability to communicate in urdu.The common man prides on local languages like Pushto, punjabi etc while the Urban burger youth focuses on english. There is nothing wrong with this evolution but what is wrong is the division that we have created. So we should all unite by coming back to Urdu and emphasizing on its useRecommend

  • A

    superb writing in defending URDU language!! very well written from the start to endRecommend

  • MA

    No wonder our country is in a structural and a perpetual decline . People are divided amongst groups. We are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. When a foreigner speaks in broken Urdu, we get overjoyed and appreciate their endeavors. But when our very own people try to speak in broken English, (remember our cricketers), we ridicule them. We make fun of them. We simply feel ashamed of speaking in our own language. We recently had a president and prime minister who would rather speak in a foreign language than in their National one. No one seemed to be bothered about it Few years ago I was, by the way unwillingly, watching a drama from Lahore station and I was baffled to hear hindi words being used as dialogues instead. this clearly shows our desperation and lack of respect towards our own culture and language. Now a days no news bulletin is complete without the inclusion of vulgarity from across the border. Why on earth our news channel have to tell their audiences about where an Indian actress is going to spend her holidays or how much she is being paid to do an item number….I am completely lost for words. Same vulgarity and culture is being promoted in our dramas too. no drama serial is deemed to be good without saas-bahu-clash, infidelity, Mehndi- shaadi-dandia-dance routine and that on Indian songs too….I believe its never too late that we realize that our identity does not lie in how good we speak English or French but how well do we know our own language and culture and history.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    All hail to BBC UrduRecommend

  • daada

    Osama Sajid, I commend you on writing this article and raising this issue! I firmly believe Pakistan, as a nation, is struggling on a global level today due to the lack of understanding of their own language.

    “Dhobi ka kutta, na ghar ka na ghaat ka”Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Are you complaining just as bitterly about the demise of Punjabi language, and the way it is neglected in most educational institutions? Is Punjabi any less of a beautiful language than Urdu? What about Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi and Bengali?

    Look around you. While Urdu is still hailed as the language that makes a guy seem more-patriotic-than-thou, it’s the regional languages that are dying of neglect. Ever cared about those?

    In a nation that is blessed with a wide range of wonderful languages, it is criminal to place any one language on the pedestal, except for as a way of allowing basic communication between people from different provinces and ethnicities.

    Otherwise, you study the language you like. Let me study the language I prefer.Recommend

  • Pappu

    Writing blog in English for the “death of urdu” says it all.Recommend

  • Ayesha

    Well in my case situation was even worst. I am studying Applied Linguistics in Kinnaird college and have been declared insane by all my fellows for taking Urdu as minor. There was only one girl in Urdu major, and when I asked her the reason for studying Urdu, I got a mind blowing answer, “yar or kahin admission hi nhi mila”.Recommend

  • marwat

    you force your identity on others, that is going to happen what
    happened to urdu, our identity was pashto, balochi, sindhi, and not

  • Saad

    Unfortunately Urdu has become a “Class” Thing, the people belonging to higher class feel shame in communicating in Urdu, while the lower class have no option .Recommend

  • Saad

    Dear, even English isnt an “original” language , it evolved by the mixture of various languages, such as Latin, Persian and evolved time to time with its different version, besides the writer has clearly mentioned that he is disregarding English as an important language, plus the topic is about the lack of importance of “Urdu” in out culture, its not about degrading a language, probably you didn’t get the central idea !Recommend

  • Khurram Aziz

    nice write up on the importance of our National language. I remember there was a clause in 1973 Constitution that arrangements would be made to establish Urdu as the official language of Pakistan but like many other issues; this went too unheeded.

    I wonder, what can happen now? what can we do to make Urdu prevail as a national & official language in the country. Its gonna be as hard as they say in Urdu “جوئے شیر لانا” …. coz Urdu has not been developed as the language of instruction in Pakistan & there are no words for many terms from different branches of science.

    Turkey developed a national language authoritative body to replace the words of other languages from Turkish & bring it back to its purest form ….. hope we could do that some day.Recommend

  • Fahad Khan

    The answer to the question is: No. It is not the death of Urdu.
    Languages never die. Even if people do. Even made up languages like ‘Klingon’ continue to live. With the vast amount of literature available it’s impossible for Urdu to die. Another negative post with a title phrased as a question.Recommend

  • Oye

    India has NO National Language,brother.
    Hindi is just one of the 22 Official languages.Recommend

  • Noor

    Dear MA,
    Maybe you should watch fewer saas-bahu serials & item numbers to retain what left of your purity & minimize your vulgarity.Recommend

  • علی عدنان

    very well written and I agree 100% . These are exactly my thoughts. It pains me when I see even graduate (so-called) educated people cannot even read/write and some don’t even understand urdu above the primary level let alone a muhawra or zarb ul misal. I feel ashamed and also very angry at the after effects of the full english-medium and O/A levels education system craze of our people. The products of these are people who look down upon our language and culture. They feel ashamed of speaking in urdu. And they think low of who cannot speak in their beloved angraizi zubaan . I pity them .. I seriously pity them.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    My mother tongue is Punjabi and my parents did not know how to speak Urdu. I was taught Urdu in school in Punjabi accent. It is a foreign language for me and I am sure majority of Pakistanis feel the same. Those who recommend that mother tongue should be medium of instructions in school forget that Urdu is mother tongue of only 7% people. If I am given a choice to learn one foreign language, I would prefer English over Urdu. Who would not prefer Land Cruiser over Tonga? English is a language of Internet, Science, Medicine and technology. Its the future of the world. People who give examples of China, Japan etc should know that fluency in English is must to get high position in those countries. Orya Maqbool is quoted because he is a bureaucrat and he is a bureaucrat because of his English. Please stop fooling Pakistani nation.Recommend

  • hf

    Dont forget about Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi and Pashtun!!Recommend

  • Chouhan

    it is very simple, Urdu can exist if we proudly speak UrduRecommend

  • s

    What is in urdu?Recommend

  • s

    You are absolutely right. he is defending urdu langauge through an english blog.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Somebody said here “languages never die”. LOL!
    Sanskrit was a literary language for many centuries and was language of instruction in the Buddhist universities of Nalanda and Taxila (Takshashila). It is not dead but being kept alive but enthusiasts and well wishers and literary people. It is not a widely spoken language anymore.
    Urdu was made popular in the subcontinent by Bollywood. Some of the great urdu writers wrote lyrics that were sung by the greats like Md Rafi, Lata etc. These popularized the language so much so that even common man in India knows may urdu words.
    Urdu fell victim to religious policitics when it was deemed the language of muslims by communal forces. Today, it seems to have lost its charm among the younger upward looking generation of Pakistanis. It is just not “cool” to learn Urdu. It may still survive but may never be the “creative” language that it once was.
    BTW, many languages have disappeared from the face of earth even in the past 100 yearsRecommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    The above URL talks about the fact that more than 90% of languages spoken today will disappear in future.

    “It said roughly 90 per cent of all languages spoken by indigenous peoples might disappear in the next 100 years.
    One of the main reasons for the dying out of languages is that they are no longer passed from one generation to the next and governments are not doing enough to record or revitalise them.”

    In India, English is seen as a language of upward mobility and so is being preferred to native languages by the middle class. Dalits in India see it as a language of emancipation. This is to the detriment of other regional languages. Most of the popular writers in India today write in English.Recommend

  • Guest

    Not many people speak nor understand much of the English language in Japan. That’s why there is a huge industry to teach “English Conversation” that hires thousands of foreign teachers every year with more and more coming in to teach. I suspect the same for China as the market for English Language schools is big over there too. I agree that Urdu should be promoted as well as Farsi to truly understand the culture of this region. It is important to have a sense of your own identity; of where you come from, what your roots are and that’s when a second language does not interfere with your identity. At the same, as one commentator said that Urdu is almost like an alien language to him/her because his family is Punjabi, there are actually more who feel the same. The important thing is to be aware of your cultural background I guess.Recommend

  • EmiKat

    Not many people speak nor understand much of the English language in Japan. That’s why there is a huge industry to teach “English Conversation” that hires thousands of foreign teachers every year with more and more coming in to teach. I suspect the same for China as the market for English Language schools is big over there too. I agree that Urdu should be promoted as well as Farsi to truly understand the culture of this region. It is important to have a sense of your own identity; of where you come from, what your roots are and that’s when a second language does not interfere with your identity. At the same, as you say that Urdu is almost like an alien language to you because your family is Punjabi, there are actually more who feel the same. The important thing is to be aware of your cultural background I guess.Recommend

  • Raja

    Urdu will never die, come what may. Same is true with all languages. Go to England and you will notice the same with English. Same is the story of Hindi as a subject in Indian classrooms. Go back in time just by 100 years when hardly 2-5% people knew how to read and write any language in rural India. That doe not mean they were not able to speak the language. Ay language should be considered dead or alive by the number of people who can speak and understand. Look at the fate of Punjabi in Pakistan how badly it has been treated. However, still the language remain as alive as it was. Trust me, not many Englishmen can appreciate reading Shakespeare. Common man may not be able to read Ghalib, but he enjoys his Shairee as much as any learned Urdu scholar. Almost 90% Indians and Pakistanis can speak and understand Urdu/ Hindi. Will you still call Urdu dead ? Go outside Inda and Pakistan and watch the eople enjoying Bollywood songs and dances. Even they understand Urdu/ Hindi to some extent. Indian and Pakistani kids born and brought up in west may not be able to read and write, but they speak reasonable good Urdu/Hindi. I personally can not read Urdu, but I understand it reasonably well and enjoy Urdu songs and Shayree.Recommend

  • Ovais

    Urdu is the national language, just like english. and has been since 1947. Grow upRecommend

  • Rustam Shahriar

    Good Article and infact true.Recommend

  • Nero

    Good call author. There is also some good contemporary Urdu literature written by Indian authors, which you might interesting. Though some of it (the ones I read) is written in Devnagari script and won’t be helpful for you. Urdu is an amazingly rich language, probably one of the few languages which have a tradition of two scripts. All the best!Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)

    Your imported-culture will destruct itself with its own dagger,
    A nest built on a fragile branch shall never be stable

    Urdu has been arbitrarily imposed as a national language in a multiethnic, multilingual Pakistan. We have our own centuries-old very rich cultures, traditions and mother languages. I love my Lahori Punjabi, just as Pathans love their Pashto, Sindhis love their Sindhi, Balauchis love their Balauchi or Brahui, kashmiris love their Kashmiri and many karachi people love their Urdu.

    Urdu and English are foreign languages of occupation forces on our soil of the subcontinent.Recommend

  • Queen

    I guess the writer wanted to to highlight Urdu’s importance to those readers of English newspapers, who rarely pick up an Urdu book for reading :)Recommend

  • Osama Sajid

    That is the dilemma, boy. I would definitely have written it in Urdu for an Urdu magazine, but that wouldn’t have served my purpose. My target audience is the ‘super cool’ urban elite, and especially their parents.Recommend

  • Sami

    I am a Punjabi/ Hindko Speaker and in my house i never saw anyone speaking Urdu. For me Urdu and English are almost same except one can learn a lot when he learn in English but in Urdu all you have is fundamentalist writings and infatuations about love that dont even exist. I speak English out of my necessity to be a global citizen and to read the books in Science and Technology while in Urdu such knowledge does not exist.

    Urdu is shoved on most of the population of Pakistan and there is nothing wrong if someone prefer to speak in English rather than in Urdu as for most of the population of Pakistan Urdu is not the mother tongue and Urdu is an Alien language too just like English.

    Moreover I could not understand that the drunken Poetry of Mirza Ghalib is a part of the Course of Punjab Text BookBoard but the Sufi poetry by Baba Farid and Bullay Shah is on the back burner only because they were in Punjabi:? The hatred of local languages and Love of Urdu will create further divisions in our country in future.Recommend

  • Isn’t that the right way to reach an audience that no longer connects with Urdu? Writing in Urdu for those who no longer read it would be pointless.Recommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    Urdu itself does not belong to the region what is called pakistan today. it is the language spoken in delhi and Awadh(uttar pradesh). Punjabi and sindhi languages have been systematically removed from pakistan. Just ask yourself lahorisRecommend

  • Languages do become extinct as fewer and fewer people speak them. Latin is a good example of a language no longer spoken even though there’s plenty of written literature in it available. Granted, Urdu is far from ending up like that. But it is worthwhile to ponder what creative energies are directed away from Urdu simply because the best and the brightest- or simply the most resourceful- of our nation are no longer as proficient in it.Recommend

  • nadeem

    great comment :)Recommend

  • nadeem

    faraz…u seem to be from lahore punjab…u forgot to mention saraiki…my language..:)Recommend

  • nadeem

    what about my mother language …. saraiki?Recommend

  • P

    Don’t you think reaching out to an audience (not comfortable in urdu) through English makes sense?Recommend

  • Nice

    Nice read. Appreciated.Recommend

  • you

    Do you see him advocating for other regional languages to be neglected?
    Start from any language you like. And if you take along all regional languages and Urdu, all the better for you.Recommend

  • hel

    Can’t people take along both English and Urdu?Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Quote: “If we compare ourselves to other non-English speaking nations, such as Germany, France, China, and Japan etc, we can easily identify a deep sense of belonging instilled in them — one that we lack today because we are so confused.”

    These are silly comparisons because these nations were built on a common language and culture, and not religion. Here you have created a nation based on majority religion among a diverse population, and to compound the confusion, have declared a foreign language (Urdu did not originate within the boundaries of present-day Pakistan) as your national language.Recommend

  • nasir mehmood

    Well needed topic…which is totally agreeable…actually when siR.SYEd gave muslims the goals to beat britishers n hindus…speaking english was its main aim…got independence everything got right as was supposed to be but then…we freed ourselves physically but never emotionally.(not just pak:P)…we still are mentally slaved…bound to like their fashion, inspired from their lifestyle… Hence everything related to them is considered a higher standard. We wont eVEr be able to be our own until n unless we change our minds…apart from what our ancestors illusioned us …govt also played role…an atmosphere of in which every one wishes to speak other language to be framed as a complete educated welloff person…who would opt for urdu…?? My cousin did hons in urdu..n everyperson was displeased with it…shamelessly

    Shaakhe nazuk vis a beautiful verseRecommend

  • Mufasa101

    Oh my God! I’m experiencing the same thing!Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    Paindoo you shall be called !!!Recommend

  • Amrita Yasin

    @Fahad Khan: I disagree, languages die when they are not in use anymore. If it isn’t being used as a means of communication, there is no literature bring produced then it is a dead language. It’s like saying Quaid is still alive because he has a tomb where people visit and his legacy still lives.Recommend

  • Raptor

    What about Punjabi, the language that is spoken by the MOST people in the world. Urdu is nothing bust another imported language, just like English. It is the death of Punjabi that I lament, esp among the burgers.

    I myself can’t speak perfect Punjabi because I was educated in Beaconhouse, but I’m learning….Recommend

  • gp65

    Not sure if you are aware that Urdu is an Indian language as in it was born in resent day India by absorbing Persian words into Hindi. Th grammar of Urdu is the same as Hindi there are more people with Urdu mother tongue n India than Pakistan. So if you want o reject all Indian influence then you need to also reject Urdu

    I also don’t know why you feel that you can not respect your own language and culture without rejecting other cultures. There is a difference between pride in one’s own language and parochialism.Recommend

  • gp65

    Pray Maqbool Jan may feel that his creativity is inhibited in another language. But Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy, Anita Desai and many more clearly have not felt similarly inhibited. Plus what does he feel about people whose mother tongue is Pashto, Punjabi, Sindi, Baloch, Hindko, Gujarati etc. who are forced to learn in Urdu in government schools?Recommend

  • Proletarian

    We should read Marx and Bakunin and Stephen Hawkings and forget Urdu and Iqbal.Recommend

  • M.Hanif Khan

    “No nation has ever progressed by
    working in someone else’s language”.

    This is an undeniable truth. Arabs translated all Greek knowledge into Arabic
    and then produced some of the best minds of our history. They did not learn
    Greek to be the best. Even Europeans translated Arabic writings into their own
    languages to usher in a new era of science.

    Very well written. It is a lament on UrduRecommend

  • Faraz Talat

    No, I see him advocating giving special attention to Urdu, and neglecting the fact that ALL languages are beautiful and important.

    A national language should be taught only to a basic degree so people around the country have a commonly language to communicate in.

    But nobody should be OBLIGED to study advanced Urdu.Recommend

  • MA

    Aww!, May be i didn’t realize my comments would have caused so much offence to the typical saas bahu serial audience. may be i should have refrained myself from thinking that progression doesn’t necessarily come from by adapting foreign cultures and language whilst ignoring and degrading your very own roots. May be I should now just shut up and leave you in peace to continue enjoying your own sense of vulgairty.Recommend

  • Dr Gul Metlo

    Urdu is merely another name of Hindi. In fact Hindi aka Urdu has been imposed upon Pakistan since 1947. None of the natives of Pakistan speak this language. Imposing it as a national language in Pakistan has created divisions which lead to division of country in 1971. Urdu in Pakistan has served the wasted interest of those who captured treacherously the jobs and other perks and privileges of state in the name of language, education, culture etc. Its dying because it never was rooted here. An alien language (Hindi) with pseudo name (Urdu) has no future anywhere in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Baig

    What about Brahui … another unique pakistani language ?Recommend

  • Zulfiqar

    Chaa gaye hain sir…khush raheinRecommend

  • Pappu

    Because every pakistani (unlike other nations) is desperate to leave pakistan at the earliest thats why he gives no importance to urdu. He must be good in english to survive in foreign lands. Also, the world of super cool urban elite revolves inside internet, ipads, iphones etc where they do not require urdu.Recommend

  • Anooop

    I feel proud that you feel so passionate about an Indian Language, born in the womb of Central India.

    After all if Pakistanis don’t speak Hindi/Urdu, India would not have such a large market for its movies and songs and TV!Recommend

  • Anooop

    When I was growing up in India, my friends used to show me their video games and tell how “imported” it was. I guess Pakistanis love everything “imported”.

    “Imported” Religion(Arabic), “Imported” Language(Indian), “Imported” Ancestors(Persian/Arabic), “Imported” heroes(Afghan)..

    I in awe of Pakistanis..Recommend

  • Sindhi

    Urdu is just a regional language. Only a tiny minority has it as its mother tongue. It has been forced on us, just like English. So you grow up and stop treating this country as some kind of a wasteland which needs imported culture and language. It’s not a colony where people speak master’s tongue. Respect diversity.Recommend

  • sharjeel

    I second his opinionRecommend

  • A

    The thing which really inspired me is this is written from a person who is pursing economics degree from LUMS and highlighting the importance of national language.Recommend

  • Parvez

    He could have written it in Urdu………but would you have read it ?
    So the authors view point stands vindicated.Recommend

  • Osama Sajid

    Hmm. That’s a very sad reality you pointed out, brother. We have limited our mind to survival and requirements only.Recommend

  • Quratulain fatima

    The point of view you took, always disturbed my mind whenever I read the best of Urdu humor as done by Mushtaq Ahmed yousafi, Languages flourish through arts and theater whereas our arts and theater especially humor has been limited to “jugat bazi”. Urdu marr na jaey tu kea kerey..Recommend

  • Humza

    Perhaps you don’t realize that people in the West consider Urdu the same as Hindi which is no great honour for a Pakistani. For native Pakistanis such as me, I am more worried about the loss of our indigenous languages like Punjabi which is an older richer language than Urdu in my opinion. I would rather speak in English than in Urdu / Hindi which is a foreign language for me and my family.Recommend

  • Quratulain fatima

    we even make the language controversial…why didnt u write in Roman Urdu…why not in that dialect and so on…we yet again refuse to swallow the point and get caught in the unimportant stuffRecommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    Is it any of your business? If you had done any research you should know that Urdu was being used as language of education in Punjab,Baluchistan and NWFP. That is why there were many writers in Punjab Hindu, Muslim and Sikh who wrote in Urdu. As a Gujarati Indian living in America what gives you the right to interfere in our business. All of this debate is of no concern to you. By the way what about the highly sanskritized Hindi of yours that the Indians themselves don’t speak. By the way we know Urdu started in UP and no body wants to reject it as an Indian influence. Despite months of seeing your comments on ET you remain as ignorant as the basic Indian about Pakistan lacking even basic knowledge about the debate in hand.Recommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    Anoop your level of hatred for Islam is so clear. Moron Islam has been here ever Eighth century AD so that’s nearly 1300 years so that is as native as any. Now if you say that then it shows your levels of hate. Now as for the imported Language we are pleased with a language that is a genuine part of this subcontinent unlike your divine Language Sanskrit which was brought by your glorious Aryan ancestors. Oh wait Didn’t the RSS just claim that the North Pole was in Bihar so as to prove the Aryans were son of the soil. Your hero is by the way a Marathi low cast man called Shivaji who looted more Hindus then Muslims who was Universally hated in Bengal because of the horrific atrocities committed during the raids of his Maratha Warriors. Before commenting on the Pakistani’s ancestors who were 90% Indians and the rest Turks,Afghans,Persians and Arabs who integrated and intermarried with the locals try commenting on the Brahmin elites who have denied the basic amenities to the local home grown sons of soil by branding them as Dalits. FYI the market for Indian dramas has hit a new low. So be happy that we are not watching your dramas any more.Recommend

  • Hunter Singh

    Thank you Mr. Osama. Articles like yours make it easier for Sikhs to claim Punjabi as their own language. Bravo.Recommend

  • Anooop

    Islam and is polar opposite of the Indian culture and beliefs. That is why the Two Nation Theory came about, isn’t it.

    So, are you rejecting the basis of your own country! Don’t you believe in the reason your country was born?

    Because Islam is so different, than the Indian culture, also called the Hindu Religion, India and Pakistan have gone in completely opposite directions.

    I never said there are no injustices in India. With 1/6th of the population it never ends. But, we don’t claim what is other’s as ours.

    Even though the Mughals intermarried, the core of the Religion didn’t change. That is why one day Jinnah appeared and pointed out how different Hindus and Muslims really are and that is why the TNT was born.

    Pakistan is today suffering because of that. “Ghaznavi” missiles, Ramadan replacing Ramzan, banning Basant(a Hindu origin festival), even Urdu(in the false belief its somehow a Muslim language) all indicates you are trying to import and own other people brands and rejecting brands which you inherited from India.

    I won’t be surprised if someday in Pakistan, people stop start claiming they have Arab ancestors! Oh wait, thats already happening.Recommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    People like you are impossible to reason with. I have told you repeatedly that no Pakistani claims Arab descent even the old foreign born elite have married with the local converts so your comments are worthless. What Indians like you, Insaan, Leela and Of course Darbullah do is to put a false attribute to us and then go on repeating those lies like fools. By the way you didn’t reply to my query about the Aryan ancestor theory which shows that you Indians only know how to sling mud and no logical debate will shake your sense of smugness. By the way Urdu as Language originated in UP and is the common heritage of both Hindus and Muslims. It’s just in 1867 some Hindus sought to replace it with a dead Language of their glorious ancestors the Aryans! Since that was not possible they made a mess of language and thrust it onto others thus destroying their own heritage. by the way except some religious folk nobody says Ramadan so please stay out of here and mind your own business. FYI if you hate the Arabs so much then take the millions of Indians living of their money from middle east. Or is it that Indians have a tendency of staying where they are not welcome such is this site!Recommend

  • Anooop

    “I have told you repeatedly that no Pakistani claims Arab descent even the old foreign born elite have married with the local converts so your comments are worthless. ”

    Oh! NO Pakistani!!! Let me see..

    People have written entire columns on how Pakistanis are not Arabs are fools? I am not talking some other newspaper but this one..

    I’ll even quote the Historian:”Arab origin is the favourite fiction of all subcontinental Muslims. Most claim their ancestor arrived in Sindh with the army under Mohammad bin Qasim (MbQ). But, I have heard of lineages reaching back to Old Testament prophets as well. An elderly Janjua (Rajput), from the Salt Range told me of a forefather named Ar, a son of the Prophet Isaac. Ar, he said, was the ancestor of the races that spoke the Aryan tongue!”

    I am a South Indian, hence Dravidian. All Humans originated from Africa, even before that from Apes. So, pull the timeline a little further and we will all become Africans and our culture will be African, not Aryan. I don’t really mind if I originate in Africa, so why would I mind Aryans? Seems like you do for some reason.

    Many people came into India, but they merged into India, contributed to its culture. Only Mughals did not, as per your Quaid E Azam himself, who insisted how Muslims and Hindus are different in his TNT.

    So, I, a red blooded Indian from South India really don’t have a problem of this Aryan theory. Why would I mind? If I don’t mind why would I reply?

    Sankskrit is the core of Indian ideology. The mantras that my dad taught me and his dad taught him are in Sanskrit. Its the same for all people in the Dravidian belt. Its our treasure, its the base of all Indian languages, including the one I speak – Kannada, a 2000 year old language, one of the oldest in the world. There is no such thing as Sanskritised Kannada, just like there is no such thing as sanskritised Hindi.

    “By the way Urdu as Language originated in UP”

    Hindi/Urdu has a Sanskrit base. Adding a few Persian words will not make it Muslim. if you think they are different please answer my question above: “Aap ka naam kya hai?” – Hindi or Urdu?

    “It’s just in 1867 some Hindus sought to replace it with a dead Language of their glorious ancestors the Aryans!”

    Who told you all this? Dude, I am a Dravidian. Since, 2000 centuries my people are speaking a language based in Sanskrit. Tamil is another ancient Indian language my people have spoken. Sanskrit is the base of all Indian languages, FYI. There are Temples in India which precede the birth of Christ which has inscription in Sanskrit.

    Look at you. You are actually meaning to sling mud on your own ancestors and are praising a Religion which is alien to this land. You are teaching me my origins.

    There are some strange things in this world.Recommend

  • Asad Zaidi

    They know how to read and speak Urdu, but they pretend they do not. Speaking English after all shows you belong to a “highly educated and decent” family .. does not matter that until a few decades ago and even today in civilized segments of our society, speaking fluent Urdu in a neutral accent shows that you have a very cultured background. For me, being able to speak fluent Urdu, or your mother tongue, is a matter of pride and honour .. Not embarassment! Not being able to do that, shows how educated and decent you are in reality!Recommend

  • gp65

    Your rudeness was uncalled for. I was Offering a comment on a public blog not interfering in a personal conversation. Some other points
    1) you may not be rejecting Indian influence of Urdu but @MA to whom I was writing feels Hindi is a foreign language and I wanted. Him o be aware that so is Urdu.

    2) Hindi is one of 22 official languages in India NOT the national language and it is not imposed on people throughout India as medium of instruction in government schools. Also government communication may use Sanskritised Hindi but no one frets when Bollywood lyrics have Urdu. So not sure what point you were making. I was not saying Urdu sold not be usedsimply that there is no reason o get upset if Hindi words are also used.

    3) Your example of Punjabi writers writing well iN Urdu supports my point and contradicts Orya Maqbool Jan’s that one cannot be creative in any language other than one’s mother tongue.Recommend


    Bhai HINdi is official lang with devanagari scriptRecommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    I didn’t know you Indians were such fans were Orya Maqbool Jan. Him ,Zaid Hamid, Hamid Gul, Ahmed Quraishi are watched only by a few confused Urban youth and nobody takes them seriously but you Indian think that they are popular in Pakistan. Now back to the original topic, Indians react furiously if somebody so much as criticize their country but yet have the audacity to come here and lecture us. Did you see the comments on Erum Sheikh’s blogs. Don’t you see the Indians gloating over Suicide bombings, Earthquakes, Floods. Is this civil? As for you calling me rude, let me refresh your memory on a previous article when I replied to you and you couldn’t come up with a logical rebuttal you immediately mocked my country saying there is no freedom of speech here. This is rich coming from an Indian who comments on each and every article here. You Indians are turning ET into TOI where the most filth is said about Islam. Have you ever condemned those comments? Don’t pretend to be the hurt party when your country men clearly lack civil manners and come here to troll non-stop.Recommend

  • gp65

    i do not follow Orya Maqbool Jan I was simply responding to a quotation by him provided in the blog. Secondly, no one should load on things like suicide bombings or rape. I know that I have never done this. Those Indians and Pakistanis who do that should stop doing that IMHO. There is nothing wonderful about human misery anywhere.
    In any case here I was not criticizing Pakistan. Simply responding to one individual’s opinion that I did not agree with. There is a difference.Recommend

  • Exploring Language

    – Blog post ignores local languages.
    – Blogger lives in the official Urdu bubble where other Pakistani languages have no place
    -Blogger is ungrateful that Urdu gets so much official support and funding when other languages get nothing whatsoever.
    -Blogger must read about how local languages in Pakistan are being ‘killed’. That is not my word. Renowned linguist Tariq Rahman has written much about how languages are suppressed in Pakistan.
    – I want to ask all Pashto speakers (and all Pakistanis) to wake up to this ‘linguistic/cultural genocide’.
    -پښتو ټائپنګ زده کړئRecommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    Anoop please understand that I have no problem with any race or religion it’s just Indians like you who come here troll. you claim to be an experiment in Hindi/Urdu but your claim is as hollow as if I start to be an expert on tamil, Spanish or Russian. Just as Sanskrit unites you guys Urdu unites us. Have you in any of your brilliant research have ever heard the name of Gyan Chand Jain, Gopi Chand Narang, Ram Babu Saxena all Hindu and linguistic researchers in Urdu. Ram Babu actually wrote a history of Urdu Literature. The so-called Hindi was made on the orders of a few British gentleman at the Fort William college. They sought to create a wedge between hindus and muslims and they succeeded. Urdu is the natural language adding a lot of words from a long dead Language. I have a question how many people speak the language used by newscasters in Doordarshan and how many understand the Language used in Pakistan. The results speak for themselves. By the way you are the first south Indian praising Hindi otherwise they are really proud of their own Language. Before commenting on my ancestors you should really try answering the Questions I raised in the above comments about Shiva ji and the North pole being in Bihar by the genius RSS whose followers most Indians on this site seem to be. The Arab ancestor theory is a moronic pastime of people belonging to a certain province. They hold as much precedence as the works of P.N oak.
    By the way if you hate the Mughals then please stop earning money from their monuments and presenting their cuisine in your so-called indian restaurants.Recommend

  • اُردو لور

    Shouldn’t have mentioned Orya Maqbool Jan, gives your article much less credibility.However, apart from that, agree with your article completely.Recommend

  • thegirlinpink

    well writtenRecommend

  • Anooop

    First of all, your claim that NO Pakistani claims to be Arab is broken. I’ve seen several articles talking about how Pakistanis claim Arab decent and own up Arab cultural traits as their own. NFP writes about it on Dawn almost every week.

    I can provide dozens of such articles. Please acknowledge I am right at the least.

    Second, you couldn’t tell if one simple sentence is Urdu or Hindi. So I am right again that they are one same language, with 2 names. If you feel otherwise, please answer my simple question above.

    Third. adding few Persian words to an already existing language – Hindi – will create a new dialect. Hindi, like all the Indian origin languages are rooted in Sanskrit. Hindi precedes “Urdu” dialect. Different dialects of Hindi are spoken all over India. That makes Urdu an Indian language, with a few Persian influences. How a dialect is Muslim, but another dialect of the same language Hindu, I don’t understand. Please enlighten me. URDU IS AN INDIAN LANGUAGE, LIKE HINDI. If Hindi is a Hindu language, as per you, so is Urdu!

    If Indians don’t understand a dialect of Hindi spoken in Pakistan, that’s because ITS A DIFFERENT DIALECT!
    Please Google, buy a dictionary, do whatever, to know what a dialect is. Dialects of Kannada spoken in the North Karnataka is not completely understandable for me, from Bangalore. That doesn’t mean its not the same language.

    Fourth, if someone forcefully comes and builds a beautiful building on your property, will you demolish it or use it? Will you give money to the guy who forcefully entered your property?

    I hope that answers your question as to why India cherishes those Mughal era monuments.

    Fifth, you have met some nut from India and think all Indians are like that! I can again refer to some guys who claimed they can run a car on water. Even your famed Scientists supported that claim. Pervez Hoodbhoy has also written how people have claimed there are Scientific secrets encoded in the Quran, on this very newspaper.

    I have a great memory, you can test me if you need.Recommend

  • Azad Qalamdaar

    “Urdu, along with our identity may eventually cease to exist”

    man, enuf of the Identity-philia plzz! ‘Language’ is only a tool/medium of communication and thus should only be looked at thru the utilitarian lense..

    Urdu is alive and kicking, it is ‘The Language’ of world’s most prolific cinema i.e. the Bollywood.. but that is the ‘Hindi film industry’! sacrilege?

    “studies on education systems have repeatedly shown that primary education of all subjects must be given in the mother tongue as the child is best able to absorb it at that age.”

    blah blah blah academic rhetoric.. not that i dont agree, yes, ideally, all knowledge and information should be available in all languages, but that’s the ‘ideal’, never gonna happen! in the real world, languages flourish primarily on the back of their economic value and Urdu lost its ‘Prestige’ status at least 200 years back to English..

    the real value and singnificance of Hindi-Urdu -yes its one and the same language- is in its being the lingua franca of South Asia and Desis worldwide..

    Urdu ke hamdardon aur thekedaaron se request hai ke pehle apne bachche Urdu medium mein bhejen phir baat karen.. aur agar waqai Urdu ka dard hai to Hindi ko bhi apnaaen and lets work on getting Hindi-Urdu recognized as the 7th Official UN Language.. how’s that for ‘identity’?

    [email protected]

  • deedawar

    Urdu was born in undivided India.Recommend

  • Saulat Qadri

    Great article! I mean look at our bookshops. Take Liberty books. When it started, like ten to fifteen years ago, it use to have a whole section filled with Urdu books, over the period of time the section has changed into only one bookshelf, that too would be in some remote corner of the store.Recommend