Islamabad: Workers of the ruling Pakistan
People’s Party (PPP) have been asked to speak in Urdu and
Sindhi with their chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who has
spent most of his life abroad and is not totally fluent with
Bilawal, who recently graduated from Oxford University
and mostly speaks in English, has been playing a larger role
in the affairs of the PPP since the party`s co-chairman,
President Asif Ali Zardari, left for Dubai last week to seek
treatment for a heart condition.
The direction to PPP workers to speak to 23-year-old
Bilawal in Urdu and Sindhi is part of efforts to groom him for
his role as party chairman, The Express Tribune reported.
He started learning Urdu and Sindhi after the recent
death of his grandmother Nusrat.
The PPP is considering hiring a tutor for him, so he can
master both languages as soon as possible.
Bilawal is not the first Bhutto with limited grasp of
local languages. His mother, slain former premier Benazir
Bhutto, and his grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, too went to
Oxford and learnt Urdu and Sindhi as secondary languages
before taking over the party.
"Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter were fluent in
Urdu....but they had grammatical issues, and the accents were
not clear," said Ghulam Hussain, a close associate of Zulfikar
"You cannot imagine Zulfikar Ali Bhutto`s aptitude
for languages. He learnt Sindhi and Urdu in a very short span
of time," he added.
Despite hailing from a Sindhi-speaking family, Zulfiqar
Ali Bhutto`s command over the language was "initially
"The Bhutto family was immersed in Sindhi culture, but
since his mother, Khursheed Begum, was not Sindhi speaking, he
did not learn Sindhi during his childhood," said Hussain.
His eldest daughter, Benazir, followed in her father`s
footsteps in her limited grasp of Urdu and Sindhi.
"The first time I saw Benazir interacting in Urdu and
Sindhi was with her household help at 70 Clifton (in Karachi),
after she completed her education and returned from aboard,"
said Munawar Ali Abbasi, a PPP provincial minister from
Larkana, the Bhutto family`s traditional stronghold.
Benazir was forced to learn local languages after she
returned from exile in 1986, when she came into direct contact
with the people.
"I remember the initial days when we visited a village
near Dadu, and Benazir was trying to speak in Sindhi with the
locals," said Shamim Ara Panhwar, a PPP office-bearer.
"Her Sindhi skills were almost non-existent. It was
difficult for the locals to understand her Sindhi, with an
English accent. She tried to speak Urdu but ended up using
English words," Panhwar said.
"After that, she strictly asked us to speak to her in
Sindhi, to learn the language."
Benazir Bhutto learnt Urdu and Sindhi from a maid whom
everyone called Ama, said former PPP activist Nuzhat Pathan.
Initially, Benazir wrote her speeches in English and
delivered them in Urdu, but later she started writing them in
roman Urdu, Pathan said.