To the world’s media:
It’s not “Ah-botta-baad” or “Ah-boat-a-baad”, or anything close to that. It’s pronounced “Ab-ta-baad” or “Ab-ut-a-baad”.
Much is being said elsewhere about the events of the past 24 hours or so, by many people with experience and knowledge of those matters. But as a Pakistani-American, who spent half his life in Pakistan, I really need to set the record straight.
Abbottabad, a small hillside town in northern Pakistan, has been a popular summer tourist destination since the British Raj. In fact, the town was named after Major James Abbott, a British military officer credited with founding the town. He was so mesmerized by the area’s beauty, that he wrote a poetic ode to it.
Abbott. Abbott-abad. Get it?
The area has had a strong military history and connection since those times. Abbottabad is very close to Haripur, the birthplace of former Pakistani dictator General Ayub Khan. The Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) is located in Kakul, which can be considered part of the greater Abbottabad area. PMA is a four-year military academy, and is the closest thing Pakistan has to West Point or Sandhurst. As most of us now know, the events that recently took place were only about 1/3 mile from the academy.
The area remains a popular tourist destination, and had been on my list for the next time I got the opportunity to visit Pakistan. The relatively cool summer weather, and views of snow-capped hills and peaks make Abbottabad quite breathtaking.
Anyway, the point here had been to clarify the correct pronunciation of what has probably become the world’s most famous town, but I digress.
Based on my above attempt to help pronounce the name, you will note that some people stay true to the founder’s name, and use all the syllables. Others prefer to skip the “ut.”
So to the world’s media, please get it right. If not for Abbottabad or Pakistan’s sake, at least for the late Sir Abbott’s sake.
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