ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Wednesday passed “The constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2016” seeking to give national status to Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto and Balochi, as national languages along with Urdu. Senator Javed Abbasi chaired the body meeting.The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016 moved by Senators Sassui Palijo and Mukhtiar Dhamrah with certain amendments after seeking input from different stakeholders including intellectual and writers of different languages. The amendment was proposed in clause (1) of Article 251 of the constitution to declare Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto and Balochi, as national languages along with Urdu. According to the bill, in the constitution of Pakistan for article 251, the following shall be substituted namely: “251 national languages 1) the national languages of Pakistan are Urdu and the languages of federating units, namely, Balochi, Pashto, Punjabi and Sindhi, 2) the official language of Pakistan shall be English until arrangements are made for Urdu to come at par with it, 3) the federal government shall establish a fund for the development and promotion of national languages and 4) provincial government may be law prescribe measure for the teaching and promotion of any language in addition to the national languages”.According to statement of objects and reasons since Balochi, Pashto, Punjabi and Sindhi languages of federating units, had not been given there due status in the constitution of Pakistan and a number of movements were going on in the country demanding grant of national status to these languages, therefore it had become imperative to given those languages the status of national languages of Pakistan. Senator Karim Khawaja also moved a similar bill seeking national status to Balochi, Balti, Brohvi, Punjabi, Pashto, Shina, Sindhi and Seraiki. However, he withdrew his bill following the request of the committee.The committee observed that in the first phase four languages including Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto and Balochi would be given national status and later other languages would be given the same status. The body also took into consideration the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2017 introduced by Senator Azam Swati seeking amendment in Article 255 of the Constitution.Members were of the view that there was a dire need to take relevant stakeholders onboard and initiate a consultative process for seeking the view point of those who would be affected. Further discussion on the Bill was deferred for seeking opinion from the quarters concerned. The committee also discussed the Public Petition submitted by Rukhsana Qambar pertaining to representation regarding taking over of the areas study centre for Africa, North and South America, Islamabad by Quaid-e-Azam University. The Committee was informed about the legal status of the area centres by the Ministry concerned. Miss. Rukhsana Qamber gave her point of view on the matter. Members of the Committee also put forward their recommendations in this regard.Senators Aitzaz Ahsan, Saleem Zia, Muzafar Hussain, Nehal Hashmi, Saifullah Magsi, Saeed Ghani, Zahida Khan, Farooq Naek, Azam Swati, Sassui Palijo, Mukhtiar Dhamrah, Karim Khawaja, Azam Musakhel, Taj Afridi, Ahmad Hassan and Rehman Malik attended the meeting.