What is the official language of Pakistan?

The official language of Pakistan plays a crucial role in the country’s cultural and linguistic landscape. In this article, we will explore the question "What is the official language of Pakistan?" and provide a comprehensive answer backed by reliable sources. Understanding the official language is essential for anyone interested in Pakistan’s history, society, and governance. Join us as we delve into the rich linguistic heritage of this South Asian nation.

History of languages in Pakistan

Pre-Partition languages

Pakistan has a rich linguistic heritage that dates back centuries. Before the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, the region that now constitutes Pakistan was home to several languages spoken by diverse communities.

One of the prominent languages spoken in this region was Urdu, which was widely used by Muslims and had its roots in Persian and Arabic. Urdu served as a lingua franca for Muslims across the subcontinent and played a vital role in the creation of Pakistan.

Another significant language spoken in pre-partition Pakistan was Punjabi. Punjabi had a long history and was widely spoken by the Punjabi community in the Punjab region. It had its unique script and literature, contributing to the cultural richness of the region.

Sindhi, spoken by the Sindhi community in Sindh province, is another pre-partition language that holds immense importance. Sindhi has its own script and a rich literary tradition dating back to ancient times.

Additionally, languages such as Balochi, Pashto, and Brahui were also spoken by various communities in different regions of the future Pakistan. These languages had their distinct identities and were part of the cultural fabric of the region.

Language policies after Partition

After the partition of the subcontinent, Pakistan had to address the issue of determining the official language of the newly formed country. The decision was crucial as it would impact national unity, administration, and communication.

In 1947, Urdu was declared the official language of Pakistan. This decision was made considering the significant role Urdu had played during the Pakistan Movement and its association with the Muslim identity. Urdu became the medium of instruction in educational institutions, the language of the judiciary, and the official language of the government.

However, it is important to note that Pakistan is a linguistically diverse country, with various regional languages spoken by different communities. Recognizing this diversity, the Constitution of Pakistan also provided for the promotion and protection of regional languages.

In 1973, the constitution was amended to give regional languages, such as Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, and Balochi, the status of national languages alongside Urdu. This step aimed to ensure the preservation and development of these languages and grant them official recognition in their respective regions.

Furthermore, the government of Pakistan has taken initiatives to promote bilingualism and multilingualism in the country. Efforts have been made to encourage the learning and usage of regional languages along with Urdu and English, which is also widely spoken and understood.

In conclusion, the history of languages in Pakistan is a testament to its linguistic diversity and cultural richness. While Urdu holds the status of the official language, the country recognizes the importance of regional languages and strives to protect and promote them, fostering a sense of inclusivity and unity among its diverse population.

Urdu as the national language

Designation as national language

Urdu, a beautiful language with deep roots in the Indo-Aryan family of languages, holds the prestigious position of being the official national language of Pakistan. The designation of Urdu as the national language was established through the Constitution of Pakistan in 1973. This decision was made with the aim of fostering national unity and providing a common means of communication among the diverse population of the country.

Importance of Urdu in Pakistan

Urdu plays a vital role in shaping the cultural, social, and political dynamics of Pakistan. It serves as a unifying force among the various ethnicities and regions within the country. Urdu has a rich literary heritage, with renowned poets and writers contributing significantly to its development over the centuries. It serves as a medium for expressing emotions, thoughts, and ideas, connecting people from different backgrounds and facilitating effective communication.

Moreover, Urdu is the language used in educational institutions, government offices, and official documentation throughout Pakistan. It enables citizens to access information, engage in public affairs, and participate fully in the democratic processes of the country. Urdu serves as a symbol of national identity, representing the collective heritage and aspirations of the Pakistani people.

Controversies surrounding Urdu

While Urdu holds a significant position in Pakistan, it is not without controversies. Some argue that the promotion of Urdu as the national language has led to the neglect and marginalization of regional languages spoken by various ethnic groups within the country. This has resulted in linguistic and cultural disparities, with some feeling that their languages and identities are being suppressed.

Another point of contention revolves around the difficulty faced by non-native Urdu speakers in fully embracing the language. Many argue that the imposition of Urdu as the national language has hindered effective communication and limited opportunities for those who are not fluent in it. This has sparked debates about the need for a more inclusive linguistic policy that accommodates the diverse linguistic landscape of Pakistan.

Despite these controversies, Urdu continues to be the official language of Pakistan, playing a significant role in the country’s socio-cultural fabric. Efforts are being made to address the concerns surrounding language diversity and promote inclusivity while preserving the importance and heritage of Urdu.

Regional languages in Pakistan


Punjabi is one of the major regional languages spoken in Pakistan. It is predominantly spoken in the province of Punjab, which is the largest and most populous province in the country. With over 100 million native speakers, Punjabi holds great significance in the cultural and linguistic landscape of Pakistan.

The Punjabi language has a rich history and is known for its vibrant literature, poetry, and folk traditions. It also serves as an identity marker for Punjabi-speaking communities, fostering a sense of pride and belonging among its speakers.


Sindhi is another prominent regional language of Pakistan, primarily spoken in the province of Sindh. It is the second most widely spoken language in the country, with millions of native speakers. Sindhi holds official status in Sindh and has a strong influence on the local culture and heritage.

Sindhi language has a diverse literary tradition that encompasses various genres such as poetry, prose, and historical writings. It plays a vital role in preserving and promoting the unique cultural identity of the Sindhi community.


Pashto is a regional language spoken primarily in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as in some parts of Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken by the Pashtun diaspora around the world.

With millions of native speakers, Pashto holds great importance in the social and cultural fabric of Pakistan. The language has a rich oral tradition of poetry, storytelling, and folk music, which reflects the deep-rooted heritage of the Pashtun people.

In conclusion, Pakistan is a linguistically diverse country with various regional languages playing a significant role in shaping its cultural and social tapestry. Punjabi, Sindhi, and Pashto are just a few examples of the vibrant linguistic diversity that exists within Pakistan. Embracing and celebrating these regional languages not only strengthens the cultural identities of different communities but also fosters inclusivity and unity within the nation.

In conclusion, the official language of Pakistan is Urdu. It is widely spoken and understood by the majority of the population. However, Pakistan is a diverse country with several regional languages, such as Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, and Pashto, also being spoken in different parts of the country. Despite this linguistic diversity, Urdu serves as the official language and is used in government institutions, educational settings, and the media. It plays a crucial role in fostering national unity and communication among different ethnic groups in Pakistan.

Share This Post: