A DIVISION bench of the Lahore High Court has suspended a directive passed by a single-member bench that called for the Central Superior Services examination to be held in Urdu beginning in 2018. The earlier LHC direction had come in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that called for having Urdu as the language for running the affairs of the state. The latest order was passed last Wednesday on an appeal by the Federal Public Service Commission with the next hearing fixed for April 20. In its arguments, the FPSC echoed the views that were widely expressed in the public domain after the court order to make Urdu the medium for the CSS examination.
Talk of Urdu as the language of power typically stirs up sensitivities. Not least among them is the question of native tongues and the view held by so many that Urdu — as yet — doesn’t quite have the capacity to cater to the state. Indeed, it is commonly and controversially contended that a switch to Urdu will bring CSS standards down. It is said that the language, because of a sheer absence of sufficient exposure to many modern subjects such as science at the highest level, lacks in certain essential expressions. This often charged debate will continue as the LHC sits down to deliberate upon the matter. It is an important case and the decision will be eagerly awaited by not only the aspiring CSS candidates but Pakistanis at large. A salient point put forward so far is that there is no Urdu syllabus and no experts around who are trained to measure just how competent the CSS’s Urdu-medium candidates are. This would entail, first, implementing Urdu as the medium of learning at all levels to enable both the language and the candidates required to take this high-efficiency test in Urdu. Rather than an abrupt transition, there must be a gradual, phased approach towards the creation of a system where the candidate can choose from multiple language options.
Dawn Editorial; Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2017