Secretive Najam Sethi and mysterious agencies – by Asif Jilani

Secretive Najam Sethi and mysterious agencies – by Asif Jilani

asif jilani

English translation by: Mahpara Qalandar

Originally published in Sindh language in daily Kawish, Urdu tranlsation published by LUBP blog

Summary: In this article, Mr. Asif Jilani, senior Pakistani columnist and veteran broadcaster of BBC Urdu, has exposed some hidden aspects of Najam Sethi, in particular his links with Pakistan’s military establishment (ISI). Mr. Jilani recalls Sethi’s dubious role in deceiving and hurting the Baloch resistance movement during 1970s, his role in ISI-sponsored malicious propaganda against democratic government of Benazir Bhutt in 1990s etc. Mr. Jilani also reports that Sethi’s oft-reported tiff with ISI is nothing but a fog of deceipt to repair his lost credibility.



Secretive Najam Sethi and mysterious agencies
– by Asif Jilani

I have never met Najam Sethi, the caretaker chief minister of Punjab (March-June 2013) — not even when in the early 1970s he was studying in England and was a member of the “London Club” made up of Pakistani students inspired by Marxism.

It was from my friend Qadir Buksh Nizamani that I heard about Sethi for the first time. Those days, Qadir was known as “Karim Baluch” and was leading the Free Baluchistan Movement from London. He told me in confidence that five “London Club” young men had joined the Movement, and had landed in Baluchistan. One of them, he said, was Najam Sethi. The other four were Ahmad Rasheed, Dilip Das (son of a Pakistan Air Force officer), and Rashed Rahman and Asad Rahman, sons of Justice Rahman.

While mentioning Najam Sethi, Mr Nizamani became worried. I asked him why, and he replied: “Even his close friends say he is a secretive person. The confidante sent by General Sherof Sher Muhammad Marri to assess the credibility of these five young men was not sure about Najam Sethi.”

In 1975, Najam Sethi was arrested while on an army helicopter. It led to suspicions about his loyalties. Soon after Sethi’s ‘arrest’ three of his friends were arrested while Dilip Das was killed by Pakistani soldiers near the Pakistan-India border. On investigation, it was found that these “London Club” gentlemen had lived in the mountains in Baluchistan where they were given military training. They were also taught the Baluch language and culture. In 1975, Najam Sethi suddenly decided to move to Karachi on the pretext of collecting funds for the Baluch freedom struggle. For some time there was no trace of him. Then all of a sudden he was found flying to Baluchistan on an army helicopter! His friends were puzzled as how why he would fly to Baluchistan on an army helicopter. They suspected that he had flown in order to identify the Baluch freedom fighters’ hideouts in the mountains. A few days before his death, Asad Rahman pointed this out in an interview.

After his ‘arrest’ in Quetta, Sethi was shifted to Hyderabad with Baluch leaders who had been jailed by Z.A. Bhutto for treason. In 1978, General Zia pardoned all the prisoner including Sethi. After his release Sethi became a journalist and soon became an exceedingly prosperous and successful journalist.

It was probably in 1976 that Saeed Ahmed Khan, a high-ranking intelligence officer, met me in my office in London disguised as a Hippie. I recognized him and told him that I had met him in the police headquarters in Karachi. He was rather shocked and embarrassed at that. He frankly told me why he had come to see me. I asked him about Najam Sethi. He only nodded his head implying that what I was thinking about him was correct. Then he looked around as if ascertaining that no one had seen him.

In 1993, Farooq Laghari dismissed Benazir’s government over corruption charges and appointed Meraj Khalid as caretaker prime minister. Najam Sethi was appointed Accountability Minister in the Meraj cabinet. Later on, the corruption cases against Benazir and Zaradri during Nawaz Sharif’s tenure were in fact prepared during Sethi’s ministership. In 1996, it was Najam Sethi who helped the BBC prepare an incriminating documentary about Benazir and Zardari called “The Princess and the Playboy”. (Details here:

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

Princess and the Playboy BBC 1996 by f1499110548

I am sure Zardari never forgot the documentary. And yet it was the PPP which appointed Sethi Punjab’s caretaker chief minister [in 2013]. This was such a mysterious act which left many people clueless. It is puzzling that when Shahbaz Sharif and Raja Riaz failed to agree to appoint a caretaker chief minister for Punjab and the parliamentary committee had given up all hopes, a mysterious phone call to Nawaz Sharif resulted in the immediate appointment of Sethi as Punjab’s caretaker minister. (Details here:

In 1999, Nawaz Sharif had Sethi arrested for treason after he made anti-Pakistan statements in India. He was put under the custody of the ISI. There were rumours about Sethi being tortured. Later he was released without any charges brought against him. Fifteen minutes after his release, Sethi gave an interview to the BBC in which he claimed that he was severely tortured. I thought he would criticise the ISI, but he actually praised it a great deal saying that it was a great institution and the entire Pakistan should be proud of it. I could not believe it. I listened to the interview again. Later I asked him if the ISI had tortured him, but he only praised it to the skies. The interview must be in the BBC archives.

It was after a long time that it was found out that the ISI had sent Sethi to India for the purpose of disinformation. The ISI strategy was to mislead the Indians into believing that the reason Sethi was arrested was because whatever he told the Indians was in fact true.

Source (Urdu) :

Related articles:

Reality of Comrade Najam Sethi – by Farrukh Sohail Goindi

Najam Sethi’s shameful role in undermining Benazir Bhutto’s democratic government

White Paper on Najam Sethi’s Performance as Caretaker Chief Minister Punjab – by Mahpara Qalander

Archive on Najam Sethi:

11 responses to “Secretive Najam Sethi and mysterious agencies – by Asif Jilani”

  1. The article is based on facts. I fully agree with the facts narrated by the writer; in that I already knew of the many skeletons in his cupboard. To be brief, he is a suspicious, intriguing, and dangerous man.

    • He really has many faces and difficult man to read with. An adversary of PPP becomes a bosom friend of Zardari during 2008-13. On assumption of office of caretaker CM Punjab I wrote an article titled as “FROM PROSECUTOR TO AN ALLY—NAJAM SETHI’S DIAGONAL ROLE IN TWO CARETAKER SETUPS.”
      “Najam Sethi, now a bosom friend and covert supporter of Zardari, under the garb of neutrality n uprightness, has been appointed caretaker CM Punjab as a reward for keeping mum on his (zardari) mega corruptions during present continuing rule of 2008-13.
      The same Mr. Sethi left the party in 1996 blaming it for massive corruption and joined the then caretaker setup of Mr. Farooq Leghari to investigate corruptions of the couple as Ehtesab Advisor. Numerous cases of corruption were instituted by him which are still hounding zardari. He is now preparing ground for re-election of same zardari despite very well aware of tons of corruption made during current misrule if compared with 1993-96.

      See a video prepared by BBC named as “PRINCESS N PLAYBOY” soon after dismissal of Benazir govt. of 1993-96 by Farooq Leghari. Mr. Sethi is star evidence testifying n investigating against corruption of zardari n bhutto in the documentary as ehtesab minister of that caretaker setup. Pls. goto:
      Mr. Sethi is telling BBC that the couple was partners in crime and he has evidence to prove that. He, inter alia, also telling that ‘zardari has ruined Benazir’s political career.’
      Look at the peculiar mindset of the gentleman in two caretaker setups—Once as Ehtesab Advisor of 1996 persecuting zardari and now as CM of Punjab rewarding zardari n co even after mega corruptions of unprecedented magnitudes.
      While analyzing this abnormal behavior with two extremes viz a viz care taker setups–once joining as ehtesab minister of 1996 to oust zardari– and then joining him to perpetuate his rule now onward in 2013—my mind starts boggling. One possible reason of this dichotomy may be that during 1993-96 rule zardari did not share anything of the loot to Mr. Sethi and did not apply the acronym of PPP (pio pilao party) in letter n spirit which, prima facie, he has done abundantly enough during current misrule of 2008-13 to the entire satisfaction of Mr. Sethi forcing him to turn blind eye on his MEGA CORRUPTIONS and to eternalize his rule to further rob people of this unfortunate country.
      He was right then and wrong now is not anybody’s guess!!!!!!
      The video will be a treat to watch patiently n share if u like it, pls.”

  2. Many in Pakistan have many faces on their faces. Najam Sethi is one of them. Asif Jilani, a journalist known credible of his time, looks correct while writing about Najam Sethi. Mr. Sethi not only can be suspected as man of local establishment, we feel many indications he is serving for multiple global establishments also. And he has every ability to do.

  3. I do not agree with Mr. Jilani of accusing Sethi on baseless allegations. It is true Mr. Setshi was a part of Marxism and supporter of Baloch and Pashtonistan but he paid the price in shape of torture. He was one of suspect in Hyderabad tribunal case, he and his counterparts of NAP were narrowly escaped from capital punishment after the cope of Zia ul Haq. Mr. Sethi has countless sacrifices for democracy and liberalism. After reading the article i found that the writer has written on professional jealousy. Mr. Sethi is great Politician, Journalist and unbiased person. Before passing judgment by readers I would say go and research.

  4. i partially agreed in contemporary journalism it becomes very difficult to hold highly and lucrative position without the help of deep state. either you work for CIA or for ISI.

  5. Problem with history id that it remains subjective never objective. You can prove DEVIL and angel and an ANGEL a devil. May i suggest DAN BROWN – a mastro in this field. I think its enough for the article to purify the LONDON CLUB. But must appreciate the effort put in, would make anybody believe in it. But stories…stories ,….and stories. KAABEY KISS MOONH SE JAO GE GHALIB… atleast man had some respect and shame…alas..

  6. Selig Harrison, in his book, mentioned about Najam Sethi’s role in Balochistan armed resistance.

    In 2006, Sethi too refers to Harrison in one of his columns:

    The US Institute of Peace’s seminar on the insurgency in Balochistan was significant for several reasons. First, one of the two seminar speakers, Selig Harrison, is the author of a 1978 book on Baloch nationalism that is peppered with partisan notions of the subject. Mr Harrison is also reputed to be “pro-India” and “anti-Pakistan” if only because of the consistently critical positions he has taken on developments in Pakistan. His presentation was notable for demanding that the US should sanction Pakistan for using American helicopters against the Baloch insurgents. Second, the other speaker, Frederic Grare, also from the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, talked about the resurgence of Baloch nationalism and highlighted the region’s geo-political importance because a “huge part of the US military operations in Afghanistan are launched from Pasni and Dalbandin bases situated on Baluch territory and the Taliban also operate from Baluchistan.” He declared that “if the pressure on Western forces in Afghanistan were to become unbearable, Washington and its allies could conceivably use the Baluch nationalists who fiercely oppose the influence of the mullahs and also oppose the Taliban, to exert diplomatic pressure on Islamabad as well as Teheran”. Interestingly enough, Mr Grare notes pointers of the “Indian hand” in Baluchistan and the role of the US as a “potential troublemaker” in the region but is careful not to give personal credence to these signs. More ominously, he concludes that “unless Pakistan changes its policy towards Baluchistan dramatically , the possibility of Baluchistan eventually gaining its independence cannot be ruled out.” At the least, he argues, “this conflict could be used in Pakistan and elsewhere as a weapon against the Pakistan government. Such a prospect would affect not only Pakistan but possibly all its neighbors. It is ultimately Islamabad that must decide whether Baluchistan will become its Achilles’ heel.” – See more at:

  7. Mir Muhammad Ali Talpur writes:

    Activists from other provinces who were involved in the struggle included Najam Sethi, Ahmed Rashid, Rashid Rahman, Asad Rahman, Dulip (Johnny) Dass, Mohammad Bhaba and myself. Most of these men were studying in London before they joined the Baloch national struggle and were also known as the “London Group.” They were mainly involved in political work, which included the printing and distribution of a clandestine newsletter named Jabal. They were also involved in educating people and in providing basic medical aid. Those urban activists who escaped to the mountains to avoid the army operation, lived in the same conditions as the common tribesmen.

    There are conflicting claims regarding the casualties from the contending sides and though no confirmed figures exist, it is believed that some 3,000 soldiers and 5,000 Baloch died during the conflict. But no attempt has been made by either side to collate the actual numbers. Some of the prominent Baloch figures who were killed in action were Safar Khan Zarakzai in Jhalawan, Mir Laung Khan, a septuagenarian, the elder brother of Mir Gul Khan Naseer who died defending his village Mali, and Jalat Khan Durkani. When Zia-ul-Haq took over, some 6,000 Baloch who were being held in different prisons were released.

    From before: Memories of Another Day
    Reposted from Newsline | June 4, 2009 | Memories of Another Day