Born in Makhdoom family of Hala, a town in Sindh province about 200 kilometres off the port city of Karachi, on August 4, 1939, Makhdoom Amin Fahim did his matriculation in 1955 and intermediate in 1957 in his native town. In 1958, he got admission in political science department of the Sindh University and did his bachelors in 1961. His father Makhdoom Talib-ul-Maula, the spiritual leader of Sarwari Jamaat, was one of the founders of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
Being the eldest of the sons, Fahim had always been very close to his father, as in Sindhi tradition the eldest son is considered the political heir of father.
The very first centre of the PPP was the bungalow of Makhdoom Talib-ul-Maula where Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was made its chairman. Initially, Fahim was more interested in poetry than politics. However, he had no choice but to jump into the fray as the political heir of Makhdoom family. “Poetry is my first love. I am still fond of saying verses and reading poetry of others,” he says.
His forte is mystic poetry. His poetry speaks about love, peace, and simplicity. “I have always been fond of the poetry of Maulana Rumi, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, and Sachal Sarmast. Their poetry has left a deep impact on my life. I have learnt from them [poets] to be loyal to your loved ones in good or rainy days,” he says.
Known as a humble politician, Fahim entered the political arena in 1970 when he was elected as member of the National Assembly from southern Thatta district of Sindh province. He has so far contested eight elections in 1970, 1977, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2008 and has remained undefeated. However, he boycotted the non-party elections of 1985 held by General Ziaul Haq in line with the decision of his party. “I don’t believe in ruling the people. I believe in ruling their hearts. That is why my voters love me, and they never disappointed me,” he opines.
Fahim also worked as state minister and also functioned for sometime as adviser to the Sindh governor. He contested election for a Sindh Assembly seat in 1977 and was inducted in Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi’s cabinet as the minister for revenue and rehabilitation.
In Pakistani politics where loyalty does not matter at all and change of party and leadership is considered a routine affair, he is embodiment of loyalty with his party and its leadership. He never regrets his decision to turn down a clear-cut offer to become the country’s prime minister on condition of parting ways with PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto after 2002 general elections.
The office of the Prime Minister was just a step away from him, but he had to except a condition to enter. The condition was to part his way from his leader, which was unacceptable to him, as he believes loyalty is the best policy. “I could have been the prime minister, which is the first and last dream of any politician in the parliamentary democracy, but loyalty is more important for me than the prime minister’s office,” he says.
Fahim knew he was going to concede a sure defeat at the hands of General Pervez Musharraf in the October 2007 presidential election, which might stigmatise his political career, but as always he bowed to his leader.
“My leader asked me to contest election against General Musharraf. That was why I contested the presidential election knowing the fact that I lagged behind as far as game of numbers was concerned,” says Fahim, who is affectionately known by his followers as he whose presence brings good harvests.
Although some political scientists thought that Benazir Bhutto had always been scared of the popularity and influence of Fahim in Sindh province, he never thought like that. “Benazir Bhutto was my leader and my Prime Minister. She was the daughter of my leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and I couldn’t betray her,” he says.
Fahim, the vice-chairman of the PPP, was also the parliamentary leader of the party in the National Assembly in the absence of Bhutto, who had remained in self-exile for eight years from 1999 to 2007. He also served as federal minister for oil & natural resources and communication from 1988 to 1990 and 1993 to 1996.
Fahim, the president of the PPP-Parliamentarians, was its parliamentary leader in the National Assembly from 2002 to 2007 in absence of Ms Bhutto. He also worked as member of the National Assembly’s Standing Committees on Kashmir and Rules of Public Accounts. He is married and has travelled to Brazil, Chile, Europe, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Spain, USA and the Middle East.
As the PPP emerged as the single largest party in the Parliament after the February 18, 2008 elections, Fahim was considered to be the candidate for office of the prime minister, as announced by PPP Co-chairman a few days after assassination of Ms Bhutto on December 27, 2007. Observers believed that after Ms Bhutto, Fahim was the most suitable candidate for the post of prime minister. However, the nomination for office of the prime minister later became a controversial issue and Fahim repeatedly said that he would not quit the party even if not named for the high office by the party.
On March 15, 2008, Fahim said he did not understand why the PPP had still not named him as its candidate. Rumours said he secretly met President Pervez Musharraf, causing a rift with the party leadership while another speculation was centred on the possibility that Zardari wanted to become prime minister himself, which would require him to win a by-election. According to Fahim, if Zardari wanted to take the position for himself, Fahim would support him.