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

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.

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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