fact check

Fact check: Relax, Pakistan has not adopted Mandarin as an official language

A motion about Mandarin was in fact passed in the Pakistan senate, but it was about teaching the official Chinese language to citizens.

In what seemed like a game of Chinese whispers gone too far, the Indian media on Monday and Tuesday reported with great relish that Pakistan had decided to make Mandarin one of the country’s official languages, apart from Urdu and English. The Pakistan Senate, the story went, had approved a motion to this effect on Monday, ostensibly to strengthen the country’s ties with China. Additionally, this would help people working on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor communicate better, said the reports.

The narrative was furthered with glee by the Indian media, who viewed it as a fresh example of Pakistan’s appeasement of rival China. That the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which India has repeatedly opposed, was mentioned in connection with the reports added to their news value.

“CPEC effect: Pakistan tags China’s Mandarin as official language month after replacing dollar with yuan for bilateral trade”, announced the headline of the Financial Express.

To enhance CPEC communication, Pakistan makes China’s Mandarin an official language”, declared Zee News.

Times Now stressed on the growing closeness between the two countries in its report headlined, “Pakistan tilts further towards China, makes Mandarin one of its official languages”.

These were just a few of the many publications that reported this version of the story: the list included News18, Outlook.com, India Today, India.com, International Business Times and others.

Outrage was quick to follow on Twitter, on both sides of the border.

This made for exciting news, but it wasn’t quite the truth.

A motion pertaining the Chinese language had indeed been passed in the Pakistani Senate on Monday, with a mention of CPEC and the word “official” in it, but that is where the similarity ended. The motion, by Senator Khalida Parveen of the People’s Party of Pakistan, merely suggested that the official Chinese language be taught in Pakistan, to “current and prospective CPEC human resource”.

“This House recommends that, in view of the growing collaboration between Pakistan and China under the CPEC, courses of the Official Chinese Language should be launched for all current and prospective Pakistani CPEC human resource in order to overcome any costly communication barriers.”  

The motion was not about making Mandarin the official language of Pakistan. It was about teaching the official Chinese language in Pakistan. This does not take away from Pakistan’s growing closeness to the Asian giant – the motion specifically mentions that fact and several reports indicate that the language is become increasingly popular in the country – but it is not quite the same as according official status to a foreign language in a country that has numerous regional tongues, some in dire need of attention.

So how did the news get misinterpreted and then amplified?

The news seems to have been first misreported by Pakistan’s Abb Tak news channel.

This was picked up by several news outlets, including the the Indian news agency Asian News International. But by the time ANI reported the story, the approval of “motion to declare Chinese as official language” (which was wrong to start with), had become: Mandarin approved as official language of Pakistan.

The sequence thereon is not entirely clear, but several subsequent India media reports quoted ANI in their articles on the topic. Even though the actual text of the motion came out later on Monday, Indian reports published on Tuesday continued to parrot the wrong claim about Pakistan making Mandarin its official language in the rush to put out eyeball-grabbing news, even though none of the credible Pakistani channels had carried the news.

Meanwhile, several Twitter users also pointed out that the initial Abb Tak report had got it wrong.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Expressing grief can take on creative forms

Even the most intense feelings of loss can be accompanied by the need to celebrate memories, as this new project shows.

Grief is a universal emotion and yet is one of the most personal experiences. Different people have their own individual ways of dealing with grief. And when it comes to grief that emerges from the loss of a loved one, it too can manifest in myriad ways.

Moving on from grief into a more life-affirming state is the natural human inclination. Various studies point to some commonly experienced stages of grieving. These include numbness, pining, despair and reorganization. Psychologist J.W. Worden’s 4-stage model for mourning includes accepting the reality of loss, working through the pain, adjusting to life without the deceased and maintaining a connection with the deceased, while moving on. Central to these healing processes would be finding healthy ways of expressing grief and being able to articulate the void they feel.

But just as there is no one way in which people experience grief, there is also no one common way in which they express their grief. Some seek solace from talking it out, while some through their work and a few others through physical activities. A few also seek strength from creative self-expressions. Some of the most moving pieces of art, literature and entertainment have in fact stemmed from the innate human need to express emotions, particularly grief and loss.

As a tribute to this universal human need to express the grief of loss, HDFC Life has initiated the Memory Project. The initiative invites people to commemorate the memory of their loved ones through music, art and poetry. The spirit of the project is captured in a video in which people from diverse walks of life share their journey of grieving after the loss of a loved one.

The film captures how individuals use creative tools to help themselves heal. Ankita Chawla, a writer featured in the video, leans on powerful words to convey her feelings for her father who is no more. Then there is Aarifah, who picked up the guitar, strummed her feelings and sang “let’s not slow down boy, we’re perfectly on time”, a line from a song she wrote for her departed love. Comedian Neville Shah addresses his late mother in succinct words, true to his style, while rapper Prabhdeep Singh seeks to celebrate the memory of his late friend through his art form. One thing they all express in common is the spirit of honouring memories. Watch the video below:


The Memory Project by HDFC Life aims to curate more such stories that celebrate cherished memories and values that our loved ones have left behind, making a lasting impression on us. You can follow the campaign on Facebook as well as on Twitter.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of HDFC Life Insurance and not by the Scroll editorial team.