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Princess and the Playboy: Zardari and Benazir Bhutto were partners in corruption – by Najam Sethi


Najam Sethi was (caretaker) Prime Minister’s Adviser on Political Affairs and Accountability as a member of the ISI-installed caretaker government in 1996 after Farooq Leghari dismissed Benazir Bhutto’s second government.

During 1990s, he (consistent with the agendas of Pakistan military establishment) was part of a systematic campaign to nationally and interntaionally discredit Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan Peoples Party.

In one of his columns in the notorious Friday Times, Sethi wrote about Benazir Bhutto:

It is really quite simple. The prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, is leading this country to constitutional chaos and administrative mayhem. The President, Farooq Leghari, must stop her from doing so. (Source)

Sethi’s columns and opinions were widely reported in the international media (BBC, New York Times etc) to highlight alleged corruption of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari.

For example, this quote from the NYT:

The officials have said that Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Zardari took pains to avoid creating a documentary record of their role in hundreds of deals. How this was done was explained by Najam Sethi, a former Bhutto loyalist who became the editor of Pakistan’s most popular [really?] political weekly, Friday Times, then was drafted to help oversee a corruption inquiry undertaken by the caretaker Government that ruled for three months after Ms. Bhutto’s dismissal in 1996. Mr. Sethi said Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Zardari adopted a system under which they assigned favors by writing orders on yellow Post-It notes and attaching them to official files. After the deals were completed, Mr. Sethi said, the notes were removed, destroying all trace of involvement.

Source: HOUSE OF GRAFT: Tracing the Bhutto Millions — A special report.; Bhutto Clan Leaves Trail of Corruption By JOHN F. BURNS Published: January 09, 1998 http://www.nytimes.com/1998/01/09/world/house-graft-tracing-bhutto-millions-special-report-bhutto-clan-leaves-trail.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

Because of his international links with media and intelligence agencies, Sethi was tasked by Pakistan’s military establishment to recruit BBC and other media houses to defame Benazir Bhutto and the PPP. Here’s what Najam Sethi said to BBC’s Jane Corbin in a 1996 documentary (Princess and the Playboy) on the alleged corruption of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari. The idea of the BBC documentary was allegedly masterminded by the ISI while the BBC producers were lured through Najam Sethi’s good contacts in the international media and foreign intelligence agencies.

[youtube id=”_YRY0N0H49M” width=”600″ height=”340″ position=”left”]

Princess and the Playboy BBC 1996 by f1499110548


[ Jane Corbin: Finding the evidence of wrongdoing in high places (Benazir Bhutto’s) is proving a difficult process. A former friend of Ms Bhutto’s, newspaper editor Najam Sethi, is the (caretaker) government advisor on corruption.In the (former) Prime Minister’s (Benazir Bhutto’s) office, he is tracking down what evidence can still be found in the files.]

Najam Sethi: Well, in theory every opinion or comment that any government official or functionary makes is supposed to be noted on the files.

But, what has happened is that the last government came up with some innovations. These little slips of paper (post-it notes) were introduced. These were stuck onto the files, comments were actually made on these little slips of paper, when decisions were finally taken, these slips of paper were removed and put into the shredder. So, the real evidence, all the reasons for taking certain decisions which could not have been upheld legally, was removed. Now we are in fact defenceless, all illegal decisions were made on these little sips of paper.


Najam Sethi: I thought of her as a friend and I thought it my duty to go and tell her what the public thought personally to tell her what the public thought I said Ms Bhutto in the old day they used to say Zardari is a crook and now they are saying you are partners in crimes. She flew off with the rage, she rave and ranted. She did not accept a word of criticism.

What do you do?

[Jane Corbin: Did he turn out to be her partner in crime?]

That’s what I think and I think we have evidence to prove that.


Najam Sethi: This is what they think; their own status. This is what they think of the money, that is the tax payers’ money. That is how they want to squander it away.

It’s really a very tragic situation.

This is a poor country, we can’t afford these things. There’ impoverishment rising unemployment on the one hand and on the other hand fantastic lifestyle of the rich and famous, the bold and beautiful if you want to say that.


Najam Sethi: She was much more than a dream come true. There was so much promise. Some of us were watching her swearing in on television and we wept with joy. It has been downed all the away.

I can’t forgive her on squandering the second opportunity.

She could have made this country.

She has given us a very bad legacy.

Somewhere along the line, her feudal instincts came to dominate her western education and her sense of liberalism.

Somewhere along the line, she reverted back to being a queen instead of being a democrat that she always promised us she would be.

I feel very sad!


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  • Najam Sethi is a riddle wrapped up in an enigma never ceases to amaze. He is liberal anti-establishment, pro-establishment and pro-PPP, all at the same time. Kinda similar game is played by Altaf Hussain. – Najam’s inclusion in Laghar Cabinet in 1996 (as pronounced by Zardari) after Tummandar dismissed his own (PPP second government) – What we have here that Alleged Awami Government is awarding Tamghas (Medals) to the likes of Najam Sethi – In good book of Zardari or not but he is absolutely in the good books of State Department and Rawalpindi.

    1996 Dawn Prime Ministers Adviser on Political Affairs and Accountability, Najam Sethi DAWN 26 December 1996 Cabinet split over recovery from defaulters


  • Relations between Nawaz Sharif and Najam Sethi were severely strained in late 1992 when TFT became critical of Mr Sharif’s policies, carried articles alleging wrongdoing by the Sharif family and launched the satirical column titled “Ittefaqnama” on the back page. The then DG-IB Brig Imtiaz Billa and DIG Police Rana Maqbool in Punjab were accordingly deputed to “teach Sethi a lesson”. While both gentlemen went about their assignment assiduously, Mr Sethi and Ms Mohsin survived the threats and income tax notices because Mr Sharif fell from grace in early 1993. In due course, Rana Maqbool apologised to Mr Sethi (“I had no choice”….”I was only doing a job”…) while Mr Sharif unexpectedly arrived at Mr Sethi’s front door one day in 1994 saying “I have come to apologise….I had no idea of what my people did to you”. In due course, with everything forgiven and forgotten, Mr Sharif began to cultivate Mr Sethi through the good offices of a mutual friend-associate. REFERENCE: Truth will out Posted on Friday, June 11, 1999 in The Friday Times (Editorial) http://www.najamsethi.com/truth-will-out-3/

    Mr Sharif and Mr Sethi retained a measure of mutual warmth after the former became prime minister in February 1997. Indeed, on at least two occasions, once over a one-on-one breakfast meeting in March and again over another one-on-one lunch in April 1997 at the PM House in Islamabad, Mr Sharif asked Mr Sethi to give up journalism and join his team at the “highest level”. But Mr Sethi politely declined, arguing that he could better demonstrate his “friendship” for Mr Sharif by remaining out of the political fray and commenting on Mr Sharif’s policies and conduct objectively from the sidelines of independent journalism.

    Mr Sethi’s relationship with Mr Sharif began to sour in May 1997 when TFT wrote editorials against Mr Sharif’s attempt to undermine the judiciary, in particular the March 1996 decisions in the famous Judges Case. TFT then went on to support Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah’s endeavours to strengthen the supreme court against the executive. And when the battle royale between Justice Shah/President Leghari and Mr Sharif erupted with full force in October 1997, TFT made no bones about opposing Mr Sharif’s attempts to become all powerful.

    As usually, Sethi was always siding with the establishment army/judiciary against elected prime ministers.

  • A BBC team investigating allegations of money laundering by members of the Sharif family arrived in Pakistan and set about interviewing people. Among those interviewed was TFT’s editor Najam Sethi and Mr Sharif’s estranged cousin Yusuf Aziz. The IB reported the BBC team’s movements and contacts to the authorities in Islamabad and concluded that Mr Sethi had probably arranged for the BBC to contact Mr Aziz via a local journalist named MAK Lodhi. Alarmed, the government picked up Mr Lodhi and shook him up. Lodhi is said by officials to have pointed the finger at Sethi in order to save his skin.

    Of course, previously Sethi had used the same channel BBC TV to make a defamatory documentary against Benazir Bhutto.

    He still has Declan Walsh, Omar Waraich, Rezaul Hasan Laskar, Ali Dayan Hasan and several others working as his paid or unpaid promoters in international circles.

  • Sethi works for both USA and Pakistani establishment.

    Sometimes double dealers do get into trouble.

    Why is ISI not confirming my husband’s arrest, asks Jugnu
    ISLAMABAD: Holding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif responsible for “abducting” her husband, Jugnu Mohsin, wife of Najam Sethi, profusely accused the government of committing “human rights violation”.

    “I demand of the prime minister to allow me to see Najam with my own eyes,” said Jugnu while addressing a press conference here on Tuesday. She said by “abducting” Najam Sethi, one of the senior-most journalists of the country, the government has violated Human Rights and acted against the norms of democracy and civil society.

    “The government is making Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Army controversial by dragging it in the matter,” said Jugnu, clad in a white dress. “Why is ISI not confirming officially the arrest of my husband?” she asked and claimed the ISI was not behind her husband’s “abduction”.

    Jugnu, who pledged to fight a battle to expose the government in its endeavour to give a lesson to the press, said: “Najam is a patriot and was so declared in an appreciation certificate from the National Defence College.”

    She said she went to the court twice and prominent lawyers Khalid Ranjha and Asma Jehangir represented her but “on both the occasions I returned with empty hands.” She appealed to all the governments in the world and Human Rights organisations, and friends and colleagues at home to help her at this critical juncture of her life.

    She narrated her story about the raid on her house last Saturday when Najam Sethi was arrested and she was tied up and locked in the dressing room. She termed the attitude of the information minister “highly hypocritical” and said that the whole thing was not linked to Najam’s speech in India, “but to his interview to BBC, his crusade for accountability and his boldness to speak the truth”.

    She said Ehtesab Bureau chief Saifur Rehman telephoned Najam much before his speech in India and threatened him with dire consequences for what he was doing. “Najam was doing nothing but speaking the truth,” Jugnu said. She said giving interview to BBC is not a crime in any way as when BBC ran the documentary, “Princess and the playboy”, it was appreciated by the then opposition led by Nawaz Sharif. She asked: “Why is now a similar investigative report being called a conspiracy against Pakistan?”

    Jugnu Mohsin, said Governor of Punjab Shahid Hamid told her to contact DG, ISI and also gave her his telephone number. “Hamid told me that Najam was in Islamabad.” “I was asked to contact a Grade-19 officer, who told me to send items of daily use, medicines and other things,” said Jugnu. “When one of my relatives contacted the man, he refused to let him meet Najam and also declined to receive the bag full of items of daily use.”

    May 1999

  • Omar Waraich @OmarWaraich
    Controversial 1996 BBC doc ‘The Princess & the Playboy’- ft BB, AZ, IK, YRG, Leghari, Najam Sethi, Mumtaz Bhutto http://youtu.be/_YRY0N0H49M
    2:18 AM – 14 Oct 12

    #Pakistan should know that Najam Sethi is part of the New America Foundation think tank: http://t.co/IOXJzrMVgx #PTI #Vote4None #CIA #US”

  • Mohammad Taqi ‏@mazdaki 18 Mar
    Sectarianism has nothing to do with recent terrorism in #Pakistan | reup #SSP’s #Ludhianvi’s puff i’view w/ @TFT_ http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta3/tft/article.php?issue=20130315&page=5
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    omar ali ‏@omarali50 18 Mar
    @mazdaki @TFT_ so he says shias are kafir and Interviewer had no follow up questions? WTF?


    Zarrar Khuhro
    @omarali50 what’s also lovely is that he’s asked how to end sectarian violence. May as well ask a rapist how to end sexual abuse @mazdaki
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    Mohammad Taqi ‏@mazdaki 18 Mar
    @ZarrarKhuhro @omarali50
    real gem was Najam Sethi saab asking us to come and ask hard Qs of #Ludhianvi
    spin sahar© ‏@spinsahar 18 Mar
    @ZarrarKhuhro his answer is very clear, kill all #shias, no Shia no killing no violence. thats all they want. @omarali50 @mazdaki
    Mehr Tarar ‏@MehrTarar 18 Mar
    @mazdaki Why surprised? NS has been pally with everyone from MNS to BB to GenM to A D & Q. ‘Hears’ everyone out. @ZarrarKhuhro @omarali50
    Mohammad Taqi ‏@mazdaki 18 Mar
    @MehrTarar @ZarrarKhuhro @omarali50
    Not surprised and haven’t forgotten Najam Sethi disparaging Benazir Bhutto in Princess and the Playboy
    Ali Taj ‏@AliAbbasTaj 18 Mar
    @mazdaki @ZarrarKhuhro @omarali50 Najam Sethi attempted to bait Dr. Taqi

  • Najam Sethi today says that one of his biggest regrets was being part of the interim government post 2nd BB term. Still, what he says in the video is incriminating and he cannot just say that he didn’t mean any of that.

    The Ehtisaab Commission was formed by Nawaz Sharif under the infamous Justice Qayyum to SOLELY hold the corruption scandals against BB and Zardari. The Supreme Court found the Commission corrupt. To quote a source

    “In its detailed judgement on the appeals of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari against their convictions by Ehtesab Bench in the SGS corruption case, the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the trial was not fair and the judge who presided over the Bench was biased.”

    This judgment was in the Musharraf era when BB was exiled. I think the Zardari BB scandals(alleged) should be more reflective on the tacit collusion and failure of the judicial and executive systems along with military and its proxies in the media.

  • Can somebody not translate this all in URDU and release it in Pakistan so that people can understand.

    People must see real ugly face of Najam Sethi, Najam the Shady!

  • Just want to cry when I see people like Najam Sethi still in power somehow playing with minds of people. How can we trust and listen people like that?

    Moman aik soraakh se 2nd baar nahin dasa jata………Does it mean there are not enough Momins in Pakistan because we have been made fool more than 3 and 5 time.

  • the fake liberals like najam sethi r no less dangerous than the right wing conservative mullahs. GHQ being the common link b/w them.

  • Najam Sethi was part of the caretaker set up in 1996 which held elections that were massively rigged.

    He also did that ‘Princess and the Playboy’ where MNAs projects were shown by BBC as ‘corruption of BB/Zardari’.

    Najam Sethi was Prime Minister’s Adviser (federal minister) on Political Affairs and Accountability after President Leghari dismissed Benazir Bhutto in 1996.


    Kamran Shafi ‏@KamranShafi46 26 Mar
    @YousufNazar Yes and did that ‘Princess and the Playboy’ where MNAs projects were shown by BBC’s Panorama as ‘corruption of BB/Zardari’!!!
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    Yousuf Nazar ‏@YousufNazar 26 Mar
    @KamranShafi46 right.. and in 1996, btw Nasim Zehra was PTI’s information secretary

    Kamran Shafi ‏@KamranShafi46 26 Mar
    @YousufNazar BTW I remonstrated with my pal Jane Corbin, presenter of that Panorama,that proof of ‘corruption’ is not on computer printouts!

    Najam Sethi from a revolutionary Marxist to the Punjab caretaker CM http://bit.ly/10jG4GK DT editorial via @imtiaz999 #Pakistan

    Yousuf Nazar ‏@YousufNazar 26 Mar
    FBR notice: Najam Sethi bought an apartment in New York in July 2008 for US$ 1.2 million & source was unexplained ??pic.twitter.com/2VUFmK70aY

    Yousuf Nazar ‏@YousufNazar 26 Mar
    Najam Sethi resorted to mis-declaration & concealment of his income in 2010 and 2011? http://www.viewpointonline.net/tax-evasion-with-tv-stars-part1-the-case-of-najam-sethi.html

    AAD ‏@aliarqam 23 Mar
    FYI! Mr Najam Sethi was part of Laghar cabinet which led to #PMLN heavy mandate in 97 elections, #PPP shud have proposed Mir Shakeel instead

    AAD ‏@aliarqam 23 Mar
    Nomination of @najamsethi shd be objected by #PPP he is biased against them also was pary of Laghar formed CT setup led to N heavey mandate

    Asif Shahzad ‏@asiffshahzad 21 Mar
    kya yeh ghalat hy k jab Sharifs ny TFT seal ki to TFT JI ki press py print hoti thi? @mazdaki @YousufNazar @imam1 @marvisirmed @najamsethi
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    Najam Sethi
    @asiffshahzad @mazdaki @YousufNazar @imam1 @marvisirmed Aik issue JI ki press pay chapa tha.
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    Asif Shahzad ‏@asiffshahzad 21 Mar
    @najamsethi thank you sir. does that mean it is ok 2 hug Islamists for some interest whatsoever? @mazdaki @YousufNazar @imam1 @marvisirmed
    Asif Shahzad ‏@asiffshahzad 21 Mar
    @najamsethi i hope u wdn’t mind asking some Qs, sir. I wd always like 2exploit any learning chance @mazdaki @YousufNazar @imam1 @marvisirmed

    Mohammad Taqi ‏@mazdaki 21 Mar
    @asiffshahzad JI men who @najamsethi said helped print @TFT_ @ JI press seen here in pic at Khost jihad @yousufnazar pic.twitter.com/eu6Fr6Sayp
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