A forgotten verdict : A Case for Urdu as Official Language of Pakistan

In post Panama leaks era, rising chorus of demands for across the board accountability is met with the qawwali of the supremacy of the constitution, continuity of democracy and rule of law. Only Scotland Yard could be trusted to identify and locate the lost democratic traditions and rule of law once it is done with Imran Farooq's murder mystery. If the Constitution, by a miracle, could speak for itself, hold press conferences and address public gatherings, media managers of the government would have instantly declared it as an international conspiracy against the continuity of democracy and prosperity of the nation. Apart from the proven utility of the Constitution to grab power, we may need a judicial commission with agreed upon terms of reference to tell us what else it means to our ruling coterie.

In a historic verdict on 8 September 2015, a three member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan reminded the government of a long forgotten constitutional obligation and ordered to make Urdu as the official language of Pakistan. The bench, headed by Chief Justice Jawwad S. Khwaja and comprised Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Qazi Faez Isa, ordered federal and provincial governments to take immediate steps for enforcement of Article 251 in line with Article 5 of the constitution and strictly follow the timeline provided by the federal government. In the days preceding the judgment, prime minister has expressed his personal interest for the promotion of Urdu. On 10 July 2015, Federal Secretary for Information and Broadcasting had told the court that prime minister Nawaz Sharif has already ordered that government institutions' websites will also carry the text in Urdu. In addition, vide a letter written on 6 July 2015, the government had directed all ministries and divisions to follow 10 point short term measures to enforce Artile 251. Therefore, after the explicit orders from the Supreme Court, adoption of Urdu as an official language looked almost certain. Only the learned pessimist was optimistic about his pessimism. 

However at that moment of jubilation a bitter truth was thrown to oblivion:  we live in a piece of land where indigenous language, culture and tradition is not a source of identity and pride. Prime minister finds Urdu as the best language to narrate the fairytale of the riches of his family but finds the same language  unfit for the business of the government. Non serious attitude of this government, like its predecessors,  became evident when prime minister preferred English to address 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly on 30 October 2015 despite the orders to address in Urdu both at home and abroad. With the retirement of Justice Jawwad S. Khawja, commitment to enforce Article 251 was a thing of the past. 

It seems that federal and provincial governments are fully determined to give the supreme court's verdict the same treatment which had been continuously accorded to the said provision of the Constitution.  On 7 November 2015, the Additional Advocate General Razzaq A. Mirza, on behalf of Punjab chief secretary and provincial law secretary moved the review petition requesting the review and to extend the three month deadline to a reasonable period. A lot more than reasonable time had already passed since the adoption of the Constitution in 1973, which made it mandatory to use Urdu as official language of the country, the request to grant reasonable time in 2015 for necessary arrangements only mean to postpone the issue for an indefinite period of time. This impression is further strengthened by remarks of Supreme Court during a proceeding on 28 January 2016. Justice Mushir Alam remarked that the government sought time for implementation of court orders but failed to submit a report in this regard. Justice Qazi Faez Isa observed that the Punjab government files review report on interim order but failed to submit any report. 

On 13 January 2016, Prime Minister’s Advisor Irfan Siddiqui had said that steps are being taken to adopt Urdu as the official language. However, no signs are detectable suggesting any advancement. Thus we see that more than 8 months are passed and most of the government institutions websites are only in English. Websites of Prime Minister's Office, provincial governments, ISPR, NADRA, Foreign Ministry – which should have been in Urdu with an English section – are all only in English. Neither is the website of the Supreme Court in Urdu. This tells the sorry state of our governments and institutions which are not willing to honour their constitutional obligations and now Supreme Court orders. 

As it was a constitutional obligation, political parties and government institutions should have given Urdu its due place a long ago. Granted it is not easy job to immediately replace English with Urdu, but exactly for the same reasons the architects of the Constitution considered 15 years enough to make all the necessary arrangements. In 2016 we still have to take the first step.

The obsession of our ruling elite with English is unintelligible as the majority of population can not apprehend this language and it does not make their lives any easier. Thus they need someone's assistance for the simpler tasks like applying for their national identity cards online. Unless the government communicates with people in the language they understand, they can not participate for improved governance. Even in government offices, use of English slows down decision making process and Supreme Court rightly remarked that, ‘there is hardly any necessity for the use of colonial language’. 

It is not to suggest a complete boycott of English. True it has been accepted as an international language. However, it is equally true that not everyone in this planet speaks English and unlike us they prefer speaking in their own languages. United Nations recognizes 6 languages as official languages. If English is international language of today then Chinese is considered of tomorrow. As we have cultural, historic and religious ties with Arab world and Iran, Arabic and Persian should not be strangers to our people. Importance of learning foreign languages in this connected global village brings its own benefits and doors should be open to foreign languages in our colleges and universities. Importance of learning foreign languages is a different debate altogether. But the official language should be the one which connects the government with it people and cement the identity of the nation. 

Language symbolizes identity and is used to signal identity by those who speak them. Adoption of Urdu as official medium for communication is imperative to develop our national identity. Besides, it has practical implications for the people of Pakistan and will help to improve governance. As the court remarked, the Article 251 is not a stand alone provision and it is directly linked to the realization of various fundamental rights protected by the Constitution, the government and its institutions must make arrangement to adopt the national language. The Supreme Court may lead by example to uphold its own verdict.

Nawaz Sharif’s Strategy to Handle Revelations About His Offshore Assets After Panama Leaks

As expected, the ball is back in the court of prime minister and we arrive back at square one. The Chief Justice of Pakistan has refused to form a ‘toothless’ commission with vague terms of reference to probe indefinite number of individuals over infinite period of time. Instead, the chief justice has suggested the government to reconsider the legislation to empower the commission and provide the precise names of individuals and companies to probe. Keeping in mind contradictory statements of his family members, would it be possible for our prime minister to form such a commission is yet to be seen.

Legendary Chinese philosopher and writer Lao-Tzu says ‘who amasses too much bears heavy losses’. Before putting on the cloak of a politician Nawaz Sharif was a businessman. Once in power corridors, financial growth of his businesses had been phenomenal. Over the decades he has accumulated too much which is stashed in different continents. Ironically, he is the premier of a nation which is heading fast to be the poorest one on this planet and direly needs investment. Contradictory trajectories are bound to cross each other at some point and that point has arrived in the disguise of Panama leaks.

Nawaz Sharif is the most experienced and the luckiest prime minister the nation have ever had. Heavens have showered kindness and mercy on him again and again. But his luck is  running out and we are witnessing the second part of an era which would be termed as ‘rise and fall of Nawaz Sharif’ in history books. Now it is the war of survival with at least two objectives: keeping the riches invested abroad safe and making Maryam Safdar a prime minister in future.

In early days of his third term he was reported for being bored in the Prime Minister House. It was even reported that he did not wish to be the prime minister at first place. But then he found some utility of his third term; to market Maryam Safdar as the avatar of Benazir Bhutto and train her as a future prime minister. Since then Sharif family ceased to cherish shared objectives.

Panama leaks came as a thunder from the blue at a moment when he had started to dream a renewed mandate in 2018. His initial response was a panicked one. Then he went for London and the nation was told that he needed urgent medical treatment. During that stay damage assessment was done and a multidimensional defense strategy was formulated.

In his state address on April 22, he preferred to look as a billionaire, who also happened to be a Prime Minister, fully determined to defend every penny of his wealth. He asked the Chief Justice of Pakistan to form a commission  to probe Panma leaks and lot more. This address was made on Friday evening, and the following day chief justice was scheduled to leave for a seven days visit to Turkey. To delay as much as possible is the very first pillar of his strategy. In the mid May we stand exactly where we stood on April 3, when first episode of Panama Papers was leaked.

The second part of his strategy involves distraction and infusing confusion. Hence the usage of vituperative language by PML-N leaders and revival of decades old mantra that democracy is in danger. Revelations of offshore assets are projected as a conspiracy against Nawaz Sharif,  who stands for democracy and development of Pakistan, and as a turf war where military wants more control over the affairs of the state.

  The third dimension of his policy requires himself to present as the promised messiah for the nation. Taxpayer’s money is generously spent for his image building through massive advertisement. While addressing public gatherings he announces glitzy projects and makes every promise that comes in his mind. If he survives fall from Panama, these promises would go to the trash bin. In the other case, these speeches could be used in future to remind people that Pakistan was about to be a developed nation when he was ousted from power.

  To rule, our leaders ask people for votes and beg international power players for support. On the fourth side, SOS messages must have been sent to international masters. Few signs of foreign assistance are perceptible. In the near future, some events may eclipse the revelations of Panama leaks and we may have no choice but to postpone the accountability issue. In this perspective, the delay of a single day becomes significant.

If everything fails and history repeats itself, it would be more beneficial to be a political martyr than an impeached prime minister. Just imagine, few years later, in an election campaign, Maryam Safdar telling people that ‘My father had not yet seen the marriages of his grandchildren when he was ousted of the PM house’. She would go to people as a sister awaiting justice. Our memories are short and traditionally we do not let a sister or daughter return empty handed. Thus sooner or later she will be the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

We would remember the year 2016 as a ‘year of leaks’. We are being told that even people like Imran Khan and Dr A. Q. Khan have had offshore companies in the past. World Bank says that Pakistanis sent $5 billion to India last year and in last 3 years it amounts to $14.36 billions. In last 5 years, Pakistanis have invested AED 30.64 billion in Dubai and are considered among top 3 investors. These days we are learning about those Pakistanis who own properties in Dubai but have not declared in their tax returns. In the days to come more leaks are likely to follow. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures and thus economic emergency should have been imposed. The real issue today is not the resignation of Nawaz Sharif but impartial and across the board accountability. By now NAB and FIA should have been working overtime. Ideally, the Prime Minister of Pakistan should be leading the war against corruption and tax evasion. But it is not happening. Rather he is standing on the top of a dysfunctional system and brandishing the flag of democracy. Unlike his previous terms, heavens have put him on the wrong side as the last obstacle on the way of accountability. He may win at the end, but it would be a personal victory. Well, it had always been personal..

This article was published in DailyTimes.

دشمن کے لیےگیدڑ ، عوام کے لیے شیر

دشمن کے لیےگیدڑ ، عوام کے لیے شیر

شیر نے ایک بار پھر تین انسانوں کا لہو پی لیا۔ تین گھر اجڑ گئے۔ تین آنگنوں میں صف ماتم بچھ گئی۔ شیر کی پیاس مگر جوان ہے۔ اندھیر نگری میں چوپٹ راج ہے۔ کوئی نہیں جانتا کہ شیر ابھی کتنے انسانوں کا خون پیے گا۔

اس وقت ہمارے ملک میں ایک جمہوری حکومت ہے۔ احتجاج ایک آئینی حق ہے۔ پی آئی اے کے ملازمین نجکاری کے خلاف احتجاج کر رہے تھے۔ یہ احتجاج ایک سانحے میں بدل گیا۔ اچانک فائرنگ ہوئی۔ تین انسان زندگی کی بازی ہار گئے۔ رینجرز کا کہنا ہے کہ انہوں نے گولی نہیں چلائی۔ پولیس کا بھی یہی موقف ہے۔ کہیں کوئی گلو بٹ اپنا کام تو نہیں دکھا گیا؟

سانحہ ماڈل ٹاون یاد کیجیے۔ اس قتل عام سے چند دن پہلے خواجہ سعد رفیق نے کہا تھا کہ پورا انتظام کر لیا گیا ہے۔ طاہر القادری کا ایسا استقبال ہو گا کہ وہ ہمیشہ یاد رکھیں گے۔ 17 اگست 2014 کو خون کی ہولی کھیلی گئی۔ خواجہ صاحب ٹھیک کہتے تھے ۔ قومی تاریخ کا یہ سیاہ دن قادری صاحب تو کیا قوم بھی ہمیشہ یاد رکھے گی۔ اس پر لطیفہ یہ کہ گاڑیوں کے شیشے توڑنے والا گلو بٹ جیل میں بیٹھا ہے مگر 14 انسانوں کا قاتل نا معلوم۔

یہی کہانی ایک بار پھر دہرائی گئی۔ ایک دن پہلے وفاقی وزیر اطلاعات پرویز رشید نے کہا تھا کہ احتجاج کرنے والوں کے پر کاٹ دیں گے۔ ان کے ساتھ وہی سلوک ہو گا جو دشمن کے ساتھ کیا جاتا ہے۔ یہ وہی پرویز رشید ہیں جو مشرف دور میں مسکینوں کے امام بنے پھرتے تھے۔ آج فرعون کی بنے پھرتے ہیں۔

پاکستان کے دورے پر آئے ہوئےنواز شریف سخت غصے میں ہیں۔ تین لاشیں گرنے کے بعد بھی ان کا غصہ کم نہیں ہوا۔ فرماتے ہیں جو ملازمین احتجاج کریں گے انہیں جیل بھیج دیا جائے گا۔ میاں صاحب کا انتخابی نشان شیر ہے۔ شیر ایک درندہ ہے۔ درندے سے رحم کی امید نہیں کی جا سکتی۔ مگر میاں صاحب کے غصے کی اصل وجہ کیا ہے؟

یہ وہی نواز شریف ہیں جو جیل برداشت نہ کر سکے۔ مچھروں کا رونا روتے رہے۔ چوری چوری معاہدہ کیا۔ جدہ بھاگ گئے۔ وہاں بیٹھ کر جمہوریت کی قوالی کرتے رہے۔ یہ وہی نواز شریف ہیں جو نریند مودی کے سامنے بھیگی بلی بن جاتے ہیں۔ دہلی سے بلاوا آئے تو سر کے بل جاتے ہیں۔ کشمیر کا نام بھی نہیں لیتے۔ اوبامہ کے سامنے زبان گنگ ہو جاتی ہے۔ طالبان کے آگے گھٹنے ٹیک دیتے ہیں۔ دشمن کے سامنے گیدڑ مگر عوام کے لیے شیر

پی آئی کی نجکاری ایک طرف، سوال یہ ہے کہ میاں صاحب کو اتنی جلدی کیا ہے؟ ایک طرف ان کے سمدھی ہیں، پاکستان کے منشی اعظم، جو کشکول تھامے نگری نگری گھومتے ہیں اور قرضے پر قرضہ لیے جا رہے ہیں۔ دوسری طرف میاں صاحب ہیں، جنہیں یہ فکر لاحق رہتی ہے کہ ہر اثاثہ بیچ دیا جائے۔ سوچنے کی بات یہ ہے کہ میاں صاحب کا اصل مشن کیا ہے؟

میاں صاحب نے ہمیں یہ تو بتا دیا کہ پی آئی اے کو روزانہ 10 کروڑ خسارہ ہو رہا ہے مگر یہ نہیں بتایا کہ میٹرو بس پر روزانہ کتنا خسارہ ہو رہا ہے۔ جب اورنج ٹرین چلے گی تو یومیہ سرکاری خزانے سے کتنا روپیہ برباد ہو گا۔ میاں صاحب کو اس بات کا بھی پتہ نہیں چلا کہ پی آئی میں احتجاج کی شروعات کے پس منظر میں ان کے اپنے وزیر شاہد خاقان عباسی نےاپنی ایر لائن ائر بلو کے کرایوں میں تین سو گنا اضافہ کر دیا۔  

اس وقت یہ بھی کہا جا رہا ہے کہ کراچی میں تین انسانوں کا لہو بہا کر سندھ رینجرز کو بدنام کرنے کی کوشش کی گئی ہے۔ اگر واقعی ایسا ہے تو اپنی سیاسی اشرافیہ سے خیر کی توقع بھی گناہ کبیرہ ہو گا۔ اگر جمہوری حکومت کو اپنی بنیادیں مضبوط کرنے کے لیے عوام کے لہو کی ضرورت ہے تو جمہوریت کی قوالی کرنے کی کیا ضرورت۔ آخر دشمن کے لیے گیدڑ اور اپنے لیے شیر کون پالتا ہے؟

مریم نواز شریف سے گذارش ہیں کہ ٹوئٹر پر تشریف لائیں اور نعرہ لگائیں، دیکھو دیکھو کون آیا۔۔۔۔۔۔

A very simple tip for the better health

The east is quite different that the West and so are the ways for treating the sickness. Though, most of these are not scientifically proven yet, but still they can do miracles for the health issues faces by different people.

However, it should also be kept in mind that even if some of these tips are not scientifically proven it does not mean that they are not helpful for a better health. And, one should also keep it in mind that why someone would be interested to fund scientific investigation about these tips, as it does not offer any monetary returns. 

Here is the tip, in Urdu. You try it and if it does any help, share your experiences.