In a move that show’s China’s growing influence in Pakistan, the country has decided to make Mandarin as one of its official languages.
A motion in this regard was approved in the Pakistani Senate on Monday.
“In a short span of 70 years, Pakistan has flirted with promoting four languages that were not the mother tongue of many people in the country – English, Urdu, Arabic, and now Chinese — ignoring native languages,” Pakistan’s Ambassador to US, Hussain Haqqani wrote on Twitter.
English and Urdu are the two other national languages.
This decision has raised a few eyebrows as neither Punjabi, which is the first language for 44 percent of Pakistanis, nor Pashto, which is spoken by about 15 percent of the population, were considered.
But quite a few Pakistanis seem to support the decision, considering China has become an important partner for Pakistan. Quite a number of Pakistanis feel knowing Mandarin would open up more job opportunities for them in both China and Pakistan.
Beijing and Islamabad is also involved in a long-term cooperation plan in economic development in areas ranging from infrastructure to information technology. The project is known as China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which involves a series of infrastructure development projects like construction of motorways, railways, bridges, tunnel and dams.
India has voiced its opposition to the project, as one part of the project goes through the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), Pakistan.
The CPEC became partly operational in November 2016, when Chinese cargo was transported to Gwadar Port in Pakistan.
Calling the CPEC one of the most important initiatives, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan said recently the project was proof of China and Pakistan’s everlasting friendship. “This is perhaps the most important initiative of our generation and the most visible part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said, according to reports.