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March 19, 2008

Sindhi speaker seals fate of Fahim

March 19, 2008

ISLAMABAD: The nomination and almost certain election of Dr Fehmida Mirza as the first woman speaker of the National Assembly has practically sealed the fate of Makhdoom Amin Fahim and his aspirations to become the prime minister of Pakistan.

Asif Ali Zardari’s old friendship with Dr Fehmida Mirza's spouse, her loyalty to the PPP and his preference to have a prime minister from the Punjab were the main factors behind her selection as the new National Assembly speaker.

"There is not even an iota of doubt left now that the PPP's prime ministerial nominee will be from the majority province," a prominent PPP leader told The News. Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, himself an aspirant for the top office, says when the speaker has the Sindh domicile, the prime minister would be from the Punjab. This is quite obvious, he believes.

Another senior PPP leader said the decision to nominate Dr Fehmida was also meant to cut Makhdoom Amin Fahim to size. Now, he said, Amin Fahim's fate is sealed. “This is now a closed chapter.”

Dr Fehmida's husband, Zulfikar Mirza, was Zardari's classmate at the Petaro Cadet College and has been his best friend. During previous governments of Benazir Bhutto, Mirza was often accused of being Zardari's front-man in alleged shady deals. That was why Mirza, whose car registration Zulfi One, used to make waves in the federal capital during those days, disappeared from the scene after the dismissal of second Benazir government in 1996.

Mirza had gone underground as he was wanted in many corruption charges. His business was also closed down that he got restored through the superior courts. He is the son of a retired Supreme Court judge.

The couple defeated another couple, aligned with the PML-Q, in the Feb 18 parliamentary elections from Badin. Dr Fehmida routed Yasmin Shah in a National Assembly constituency while her husband defeated Pappu Shah on a Sindh Assembly seat.

Dr Fehmida, born in Karachi on

December 20, 1956, has been repeatedly returned to the National Assembly in the direct election. She is daughter of (late) Qazi Abdul Majid Abid, who was a minister in cabinets headed by Mohammad Khan Junejo, Benazir Bhutto and Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi (caretaker). Dr Fehmida is an agriculturist and businesswoman by profession. She did her MBBS from the Liaquat Medical College, Jamshoro in 1982. She has two sons and two daughters.

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