The Planning Ministry’s Bold Step to Empower Urdu: National Language Processing Laboratory Approved
In a commendable move, the Planning Ministry has given its seal of approval to the National Language Processing Laboratory (NLP Lab), aimed at implementing and promoting Urdu. The project, sponsored by the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture, will be executed by the National Language Promotion Department (NLPD).
The primary objective of this initiative is to elevate Urdu to the ranks of languages equipped with modern technological applications and extensive digital data resources. The NLP Lab will harness machine translation (MT), speech recognition (SR), and optical character recognition (OCR) to achieve this goal.
With a vision of making language learning more accessible and facilitating cross-border communication and commerce, the NLP Lab aims to provide online content access, promote cross-cultural understanding, and preserve language resources.
While the political elite remains engrossed in a power struggle, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal has been relentlessly working towards the digital transformation of Pakistan. In addition to establishing a steering committee of experts from the IT and private sectors to boost the country’s export volume, he has now spearheaded the efforts to revitalize Urdu through the NLP Lab.
The decision to breathe new life into Urdu is also a response to the Supreme Court’s 2015 order, which mandated its use as the official language in all government departments under Article 251 of the constitution.
The forthcoming components of the NLP Lab are expected to empower Urdu as both a treasure trove of knowledge and a medium of communication. The machine translation (MT) module will utilize computer algorithms to enable quick translations of current official documents from English to Urdu.
Additionally, the speech recognition (SR) module will allow digital devices to recognize and transcribe human speech into Urdu text. Moreover, the optical character recognition (OCR) module will convert printed text into editable digital text.
In today’s world, the survival and success of languages depend on their adaptation to the latest technologies. The Planning Ministry’s commendable efforts ensure that Urdu, our national language, remains relevant and vibrant in the 21st century.
This endeavor carries not only cultural significance but also national pride. Prominent leaders around the world prefer to speak in their national languages at international forums, highlighting the importance of preserving linguistic heritage. Unfortunately, many Pakistani leaders tend to communicate in English at important events. However, nations like India, which gained independence at the same time, increasingly embrace their national language, Hindi, for speeches and meetings, drawing inspiration from leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Similar transformations have occurred in other countries as well. Turkish leaders, especially President Erdogan, have spearheaded a resurgence of traditional Turkish culture that extends beyond their language.
These examples serve as valuable lessons for Pakistan. The Planning Ministry’s digitization efforts for Urdu will undoubtedly revive its usage at all levels, from grassroots communities to the highest echelons of government offices. By embracing modern technology, Pakistan paves the way for a thriving and future-proof national language.