By Manzoor Shaikh
Barely four months after his death, his legacy has come to revisit his party—the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP). His elder son Makhdoom Jamil-uz-Zaman now champions it that has sent ripples into the party. The Makhdoom Family of Hala whose three generations have remained associated with the PPP appears to have broken the bond for sure. Its relationship with the party will now remain titular.
Jamil holds a provincial ministry in Sindh but, his supporters say, is an impotent one. It has annoyed him and his brothers warning that they are not bound to stick to the party if their reservations are not addressed properly.
Spiritual head of Sawrai Jamat, Makhdoom Amin Faheem, held the office of the Chairman of the PPPP died unhappy that the party did not appreciate what he deserved. ‘He chose not to part ways because of his commitment with Bhuttos but surely left behind a blueprint for his successors how to deal with the post-Benzair Bhutto party’, a close aide of claims.
Jamil who succeeded the spiritual leadership of the Jamat now believed to have followed the footprints of his father who during the tail of his life sent a strong signal to the party that he mattered much than the party’s expectations if he brought together four spiritual seats of Sindh—one that he led, the others headed by Pir Pagara (the PML – F), Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi (PTI) and Jilanis of Khairpur district (PPP).
Makhdoom Amin Faheem played a key role in the party and was trusted by Benazir Bhutto for his loyalty and his relations with the country’s power military establishment. He was offered to be the premier of the country by Gen. Musharraf when Benazir Bhutto was in exile but he turned it down.
Then things started changing after the assassination of Benzir Bhutto in 2007. Bhutto had nominated her spouse Asif Zardari who then lived in the US to be her successor through a will that many still believe was fictitious.
Makhdoom held the strings of the party and was sure to have fruits for his long association with the party. Before the transition of the leadership of the party he cast doubts over the credibility of the will and then swiftly stepped back. “He played a game which he believed would pay him”, a PPP insider claims.
“Asif Zardari badly needed his support as he could not afford the controversy around the will that was to make him one of the most powerful persons in the coming years of Pakistan. He announced Makhdoom would be their premier after the 2008 elections. “The party’s high command, claim Amin’s comrades betrayed him making Yousuf Raza Gilani the Prime Minister.
Makhdoom’s well-wishers believe betraying Amin sowed between them and the party the seeds of mistrust, now grownup into a distance which continued widening even though Amin Faheem and his successor Jamil were inducted into federal and Sindh cabinets.
Jamil’s close aides say he is a powerless minister and his disciples have been ignored especially in his home district Matiari, carved out of Hyderabad district by Dr. Arbab Raheem.
Before him was his brother, posted as the Deputy Commissioner of Tharparkar when the desert hit famine amassing allegations on him that he did not notify the dry spell in due time.
Unlike his father Jamil is said to be busy organizing his Jamat, which as his close aides say he would draw his strength from rather than his party.
Before him, his fellow Pir, Pir Pagara demonstrated his unprecedented strength of his followers in Hyderabad during last PPPP government against the local government law which Sindhis believed hurt the interests of the province’s uniformity.
Although, Pir Pagara failed to capitalize his strength into his vote in 2013 elections, the precedence he created encouraged the spiritual leaders of Sindh like Jamil, that now that they can elevate themselves high on the bargaining table.
Some decades back when the political forces ruled the popular wave in Pakistan, the spiritual seats and their vast following had crumbled like dusty walls and many influential Pirs suffered defeats at the hands of popular political parties.
But the time has changed, at least in Sindh. The PPP now led by the spouse of slain Benazir Bhutto has lost much of its say and many analysts claim it has shrunk to the rural areas of Sindh and thus the Pirs have chances of resurrection in this province.
Makhdooms of Hala have a long experience with the PPPP. They know how bigwigs defected the party and turned into miniatures. Thus, they seem not to cut their ties with the party and correspondingly organizing their Jamat which they believe may be part of greater political consortium of spiritual seats of Sindh in the future.
The Writer is a senior Journalist based in Karachi