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Benazir aide Fahim is party’s man for PM

Some analysts believe that Fahim is more “bureaucratic” than political in style, reports Amit Baruah.

world Updated: Dec 31, 2007 03:18 IST
Amit Baruah

Whether intentional or not, the new co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Asif Ali Zardari, let slip at his inaugural press conference at Naudero, Larkana, that party vice-chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim could be the next prime minister of Pakistan.

Fahim, as vice-chairman, ran the party during the difficult years (1999-2007) that Benazir Bhutto spent in exile. A trusted loyalist of the family, Fahim has been elected to Pakistan’s National Assembly six times. He’s also been Revenue Minister in the Singh province and Federal Minister both in 1988 and 1994 when Benazir was prime minister.

Much like the Bhuttos, Fahim owns thousands of acres in the Sindh province. He hails from a family of Pirs (holy men) around the Halla shrike, some 50 km from Hyderabad in the Sindh.

Fahim, who was trusted by Benazir to run party affairs in her absence, is considered “soft”, not aggressive in his approach. Some analysts believe that Fahim is more “bureaucratic” than political in style.

A regular in the Islamabad diplomatic circuit, Fahim was much sought after during the years Benazir was abroad. Interestingly, Fahim contests from two to three constituencies around Hyderabad and has always won the polls by a big margin.

Pakistani analysts also believe that Zardari may have mentioned Fahim’s name as the possible prime minister to shift attention from his own ambitions, which are hardly hidden. At this point of time, Zardari would not like to be seen as power hungry, a charge made against him during the two terms his wife, Benazir, served as prime minister.

The analysts say the situation could well change after the elections which, in all likelihood, are going to be swept by the PPP. At that time, the party will be seen as putting “pressure” on Zardari to accept the post of prime minister. And, “bowing” to party pressure, the new PPP co-chairman will actually accept the job. “Fahim is not going to get a Manmohan Singh-type role in a future Pakistani government,” one Islamabad-based analyst believes. Why? Pat came the reply: “Because Asif Ali Zardari is no Sonia Gandhi.”