Languages of Pakistan
Since I was born and raised in America, the language I first learned was English, although I was able to pick up a little bit of Urdu while growing up because my mother was from Pakistan. When I began to research about the different languages in Pakistan, I was surprised to learn that only 8% of Pakistanis spoke the language Urdu. I had always thought that Urdu was the national language of Pakistan, which it is and I will touch on that later, because it was the only Pakistani language I had ever heard spoken by my family and their friends.
Being surprised by this, I asked my mother why only 8% of Pakistanis spoke Urdu, and she looked at me in disbelief and said that was not possible. She told me almost everyone in Pakistan spoke Urdu, which then prompted me to do a bit more research. Although there is a statistic that only 8% of Pakistanis speak Urdu, the statistic is in regards to the percentage of people that speak it for their first language. Even though the majority of Pakistanis may speak another language for their first language, Urdu is still the most known language in the country and spoken by the vast majority as a second language, putting the 8% statistic into perspective.
In regards to the state language, previously English and Urdu had both been the national language until recently when the government decided to keep Urdu and drop English from its official language. A court ruling passed in 1973 stated that the government had to change to official language to solely Urdu within 15 years and had not been enforced until now. English had been relatively limited to the elites in Pakistan because they are able to afford the expensive costs of English tutoring, meanwhile common children in Pakistan cannot afford the same education. Some believe that the move from English to Urdu is in response to the younger generations openness towards the West, in which many of the elder generation want to keep nationalism high by keeping their native tongue as the official language.
Pakistan is also facing loss of many cultures and heritages through the potential loss of many different regional languages. With English being taught to the wealthy and Urdu being taught in schools for the lower and middle class, many regional distinct native languages are beginning to fade away with the new generation.
Within Pakistan there are 72 regional languages, with most people speaking a majority of three languages. One language called Hindko is beginning to fade away, which in response the native people have begun conducting regional meetings and conferences to converse in their dying language. The younger generation within these regional areas in Pakistan now have trouble communicating with their elders, simply because they do not speak the native tongue of their elders as well anymore.
There is some work being done to try to remedy these situations, in which really the only way the elders can preserve their native languages is by forcing their children and their spouses to study their language. Some activists say that these efforts are good, however the government needs to step in and try to fund education efforts to preserve the native languages and culture.
Because of Pakistan’s population size and geographical region, the country participates in numerous international organizations. In fact, Pakistan is involved in a number of similar organizations as the United States, such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Pakistan has been a member of the WTO since 1995, a member of the UN since 1947, and has taken loans from the IMF since the 1980’s.
In regards to the United Nations, Pakistan has had an active participation since just after a month after its independence from the British Empire. It been involved in the UN Security Council seven times and in 2009 stood as the country with the largest contribution amount of troops sent to UN peacekeeping missions in the world. Pakistan had recently ratified a new treaty called the TFA created by the World Trade Organization which overall would help Pakistan in regards to trade deals by a reduction in costs. By ratifying the treaty, Pakistan became the first South Asian country to do so even before India, signaling its priority of international trade.
Pakistan’s involvement with the IMF has been a bit of a different story than the other two organizations. Pakistan had been involved in many loans from the IMF and had struggled to pay many of them, but finally the President has said goodbye to the IMF with Pakistan’s final payment on their loan being cleared. As talked about in the previous post, Pakistan has been doing well economically in recent times due to increase in international trade and China’s multi-billion dollar investment in Pakistan, all which have led to Pakistan not needing the IMF’s funding anymore. Pakistan has met all of the IMF’s conditions for increasing taxes, increasing growth, and reducing its deficit, which has also led to Pakistan being able to move on from relying on loans from the IMF.
Pakistan’s GINI coefficient from 2013 was 30.7, a very slight decrease from its coefficient in 1987 of 33.3. The lower the GINI coefficient number is, the more equal it is, and the higher the more unequal it is. Before finding out Pakistan’s number, I was pretty sure it would be very high, demonstrating the country to be very unequal, however that is not really true. Pakistan sits right around France and Austria on the equality measurement, showing it is closer to a European country than most of the Asian countries on the list. In fact, according to the list, Pakistan sits as more equal in its wealth distribution than United States and Japan, countries that I thought would be much more equal.