PPP men to converse in Urdu to make Bilawal fluent
Last Updated: Monday, December 12, 2011, 18:12
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 these languages.

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 Ali Bhutto.

"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 non-existent".

"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.


First Published: Monday, December 12, 2011, 18:11

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