Obituary: Faheem: a veteran politician and loyal PPP worker

As a spiritual leader, a poet and a man of culture, Faheem was respected even by his opponents


Hafeez Tunio November 21, 2015
PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Veteran politician Makhdoom Muhammad Amin Faheem was born into a famous spiritual and political family of Hala area of Sindh in August 1939. His father, Makhdoom  Talibul Moula, was a close friend of the PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and a founding members of the party.

Faheem received his primary education in his hometown and went to Sindh University from where he did Master’s in political science in 1961. He started his political career in 1970 when he contested elections for a National Assembly seat that was vacated by the PPP chief Z A Bhutto. Later, Faheem took part and won polls from his home constituency in 1977, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2008 and 2013 general elections.

During his political career, he was very close to the PPP’s slain leader Benazir Bhutto and was twice appointed as federal minister – working as communication minister in 1988 and housing and works minister in 1994. He also served as federal minister during the PPP’s last government.

In the absence of Benazir Bhutto, who went to self-exile during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in 1998, Faheem ran the party affairs. He also played the role of a strong opposition leader and also led the Alliance for Restoration for Democracy (ARD) – a bloc of political parties – that was formed for revival of democracy after the 1999 military coup.

Faheem was accompanying Benazir Bhutto at the time of her assassination in Rawalpindi in December 2007 and his name surfaced for the position of the party’s chairman. However, this did not happen as the PPP leader and Benazir’s husband Asif Zardari revealed her ‘will’ in which she had made her son, Bilawal, the next caretaker of the party.

Before the general election in 2008, his name was also considered for the slot of premiership. However, when the PPP came to power, the party leadership nominated Yousaf Raza Gilani for the post. Later, he apparently developed differences with the PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari; however, the rumours of his joining the PPP’s political opponents quickly died out.

According to writer Zulfiqar Qadri, Faheem was very close to Benazir Bhutto and was not only a loyal PPP worker but also a longstanding pillar of the party. “He never ever compromised on principles, stood with the party in trying times and even rejected the former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf’s offer to become the country’s prime minister,” he said.

“Amin Faheem was actually following his father’s footprints, who, after the death of Bhutto, had also rejected Gen Zia’s offer to join the government,” he said, adding that Faheem played an active role in the Movement for Restoration for Democracy (MRD) that was started to end Zia dictatorship in 1981.

Recently, Faheem was indicted in National Insurance Company Limited corruption case, but he and his entire party had termed it a case of political victimisation.

Fahim, besides being a spiritual leadership and the 18th head of Sarwari Jamaat, also inherited a knack for poetry from his ancestors. Qazi Shaukat Ali, a Hala-based Sindhi writer, said, “Poetry was among Fahim’s few pursuits, especially when he was young.”

“Poetry is my first love. I am still fond of saying verses and reading poetry,” Faheem once said in an interview. Maulana Rumi, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and Sachal Sarmast, among others, were his favourites.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2015.

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