Provincial Autonomy and Devolution of Language Policy in Pakistan: Retrospect and Prospect


  • Ayaz Ahmad
  • Asghar Khan


Federalism, Provincial Autonomy, Devolution, Language Policy, Models of Policy Formulation, Implementation,Minority Languages, Language Rights


This paper revisits the concept of devolution in Pakistan as a
federal state. It overviews the history of language policy from the
perspective of the devolution in the context of 18th amendments. It
evaluates the arguments of the supporters and opposers of
devolution. While the supporters believe and argue in the support
of devolution of decision making to the local level, the opposers
consider such a move a threat to the existence of Pakistan. This
paper establishes the validity of the argument of supporters of
devolution and considers such a move beneficial for the promotion
of local languages and the associated cultural, socio-political
empowerment and economic opportunities of the local speakers.
The absence of the substance of the opposers of devolution is
thereby presented. The case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a small unit
of federation that houses a number of minority languages is
explored. It is established that language policy became more
conducive after passage of 18th Amendment in the Constitution of
Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973. The devolution of Higher
Education Commission (HEC) is also discussed and it is found that
devolution of education - that remains the most important domain
of language policy - still remains centralized and its devolution is
resisted with the help of arguments of the opposers of devolution.
This paper recommends the policy of considering local languages
as a source of strengthening the federation. It also suggest to make
language related choices of minority languages a right that is
protected through legal, material and institutional guarantees.




How to Cite

Ahmad , A. ., & Khan, A. (2017). Provincial Autonomy and Devolution of Language Policy in Pakistan: Retrospect and Prospect. Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences, 37(1), 241-254. Retrieved from