Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Khadim or Makhdoom?
Makhdoom Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has been elected and sworn in as the new prime minister of Pakistan. He won by a massive margin of 264 to 42.
The new prime minister belongs to an influential and spiritual shia family of Multan, born on June 9, 1952 in Karachi, Pakistan. His father was a descendant of Syed Musa Pak, a leading Sufi spiritual figure of Multan of the Qadiri Sufi Order of Shi'a Islam. Syed Musa Pak hailed from the Iranian province of Gilan. One of Gilani's maternal aunts is the wife of Pir Pagara. Makhdoom Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani is married and has four sons and one daughter, Fiza Gilani and one grandson. The eldest son of the Makhdoom, Makhdoom Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani, is marrying the grand-daughter of Pir Pagara today in Karachi.
The Makhdoom recieved early education at La Salle High School at Multan. He graduated with BA in 1970 and MA in Journalism from University of the Punjab, Lahore in 1976.
The Makhdoom began his political journey from the platform of Pakistan Muslim League during General Zia-ul-Haq's martial law in 1978. He joined the Muslim League's Central Working Committee. He was also a cabinet member in the three-year government of Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo. He served as Minister of Housing and Works from April 1985 to January 1986 and Railways Minister from January 1986 to December 1986.
After a short stint with the Muslim League, the Makhdoom joined the Pakistan Peoples Party in 1988 and has since remained PPP's loyal and steadfast supporter. In the Benazir Bhutto government of 1988-1990, Gilani was again a cabinet minister: He was Minister of Tourism from March 1989 to January 1990 and again served as Minister of Housing and Works from January 1990 to August 1990.
In the Benazir Bhutto government of 1993-1996, the Makhdoom was elected the Speaker of National Assembly of Pakistan, which he stayed till February 1997.
He has been elected various times as Member of National Assembly from Multan. In the 2008 general election, he beat PML-Q leader Sikandar Hayat Bosan.
While the Makhdoom deserves to be congratulated for winning the nod from the PPP-PML(N) leadership to become the new prime minister, it is hard to see this development as a new beginning and a clean break from the past. He is part of the feudal club and a creature of the military, not unlike the "democtartic" leaders of the past. He owes his position to the family wealth and connections buttressed by the claim to being a descendant of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH).
Just prior to the recent elections in Pakistan, the BBC talked about the feudal shadow over Pakistan as follows: "In many cases they(feudals)are also able to claim the loyalty of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, of "murids" (devotees) who believe they are directly descended from local saints. On top of this, they usually control the "station and katchery" (the police and the courts) which ensures the compliance, willing or not, of the local populace." Please read my February post on this subject.
As long as the feudal system and the feudal lords remain powerful in Pakistan, it will continue to have Makhdooms (lords) rather than Khadims (servants) in leadership positions.
Sources: Wikipedia, BBC News, Haq's Musings blog