Saturday, December 26, 2020

Bhutto Dynasty: How the Bhuttos Used Money For Political and Personal Gain

The role of money in elections and politics is generally known and understood around the world. Pakistan is no exception. In a recent book entitled "The Bhutto Dynasty" written by veteran British journalist Owen Bennet Jones, the author describes how former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto saw "kickbacks" as an essential part of politics. Jones says that  the "amnesty she (Benazir Bhutto) secured from General Musharraf scuppered a Swiss trial in which there was a very high chance she would have been convicted of, among other things, using money from bribes to buy a necklace worth $175,000". 

The Bhutto Dynasty:

Owen Bennet Jones has described in some detail how Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto saw the role of money in Pakistani politics. Here's an excerpt of Benazir's candid admission that "kickbacks must be taken":

"In a surprisingly unguarded interview with the American Academy of Achievement in 2000 she (Benazir Bhutto) said, while denying personal involvement, that she wished she had done more to tackle corruption: ‘We all knew kickbacks must be taken . . . these things happen.’Politicians everywhere, she argued, made money. The difference was that while Western politicians did so after they left office, their counterparts in the developing world did not have that option".

Asif Zardari-Benazir Bhutto Wedding Picture

Jones offers several specific instances of how the Bhuttos used money for political gain. One such instance was when Benazir Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari helped her defeat a no-confidence motion that appeared to be all but certain to remove her from power. Here are the relevant excerpts of the book:

"Having seen politics close up when her father was in power, Benazir had long been aware that money played a part in Pakistani politics. But now it could not have been clearer: if one of her National Assembly members was being offered a bribe to switch to the opposition, she needed to be able to match it............As another of her political advisers later recalled, ‘Asif’s role became more prominent when she beat back the motion of no confidence. There was some wheeler dealing in that. Some buying of votes. The moment money transactions came into play, Asif was in his element.’ Asif Zardari has consistently denied any financial malpractice. During her second government, Benazir told an aide that you needed to have $200–300 million to go into an election so that you could fund your candidates and secure their loyalty. While many of her advisers gave her plenty of interesting suggestions about what to do, Zardari actually did things, proving himself to be a man she could rely on" 

Owen Bennet Jones has reported another instance in which Zulfikar Ali Bhutto gave away bundles of cash to a religious leader who was the last hold-out against the adoption of the 1973 constitution. Here is the excerpt:

"It was, by any standards, extraordinary that Zulfikar managed to push it through with no one in the National Assembly voting against it. Mubashir Hassan described how the final hold-out – a cleric – was persuaded to vote in favour with a payoff: ‘The amount was settled and Bhutto described the scene to me how when the fellow came to President’s House to collect the money, Bhutto threw a packet of notes on the floor and ordered him to pick it up. There the man was, moving over the carpet on all fours, picking a bundle from here and a bundle from there. Bhutto was mightily amused. By using all his political skills – bribery included – Zulfikar had made a significant contribution to Pakistan’s national story." 

The Panama Leaks: 

Pakistani politicians and their supporters use allegations of corruption in Pakistani military to distract attention from their own well-documented corruption. Just a quick look at the names in leaked Panama Papers shows that politicians, not generals, dominate these lists. Pakistani names included in Panama Papers are those of several politicians and business people, but no generals, according to media reports.

 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is linked to 9 companies connected to his family name. Those involved are:  Hassan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz, Relatives of Punjab Chief Minister and brother of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif are linked to 7 companies. They are: Samina Durrani and Ilyas Meraj.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was linked to one company. Her relatives and associates are linked to others: Nephew Hassan Ali Jaffery Javed Pasha, Close friend of Asif Ali Zardari (4 companies), PPP Senator Rehman Malik (1 company), PPP Senator Osman Saifullah’s family (34 companies), Anwar Saifullah, Salim Saifullah, Humayun Saifullah, Iqbal Saifullah, Javed Saifullah, Jehangir Saifullah. The Chaudharies of Gujrat have not been linked personally but other relatives have including: Waseem Gulzar Zain Sukhera (co-accused with former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s son in the Hajj scandal).

Pakistani Businessmen in Panama Leaks: Real Estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain’s son (Bahria Town) Ahmad Ali Riaz (1 company), Chairman ABM Group of Companies Azam Sultan (5 companies), Pizza Hut owner Aqeel Hussain and family (1 company), Brother Tanwir Hassan Chairman Soorty Enterprise Abdul Rashid Soorty and family, Sultan Ali Allana, Chairman of Habib Bank Limited (1 company), Khawaja Iqbal Hassan, former NIB bank President (1 company), Bashir Ahmed and Javed Shakoor of Buxly Paints (1 company), Mehmood Ahmed of Berger Paints (1 company), Hotel tycoon Sadruddin Hashwani and family (3 companies), Murtaza Haswani Owner of Hilton Pharma, Shehbaz Yasin Malik and family (1 company), The Hussain Dawood family (2 companies), Shahzada Dawood Abdul Samad Dawood Partner Saad Raja, The Abdullah family of Sapphire Textiles (5 companies), Yousuf Abdullah and his wife, Muhammad Abdullah and his wife, Shahid Abdullah and his family, Nadeem Abdullah and family, Amer Abdullah and family, Gul Muhammad Tabba of Lucky Textiles, Shahid Nazir, CEO of Masood Textile Mills (1 company), Partner Naziya Nazir Zulfiqar Ali Lakhani, from Lakson Group and owner of Colgate-Palmolive, Tetley Clover and Clover Pakistan (1 company) and Zulfiqar Paracha and family of Universal Corporation (1 company).

Pakistani Judges in Panama Leaks: Serving Lahore High Court Judge Justice Farrukh Irfan, Retired Judge Malik Qayyum, Pakistani Media personnel in Panama Leaks: Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman of GEO-Jang Media Group (1 company).
Politicians Dominate Panama Leaks

Political Patronage:

Pakistani civilian rule has been characterized by a system of political patronage that doles out money and jobs to political party supporters at the expense of the rest of the population. Public sector jobs, including those in education and health care sectors, are part of this patronage system that was described by Pakistani economist Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, the man credited with the development of United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) as follows:

"...every time a new political government comes in they have to distribute huge amounts of state money and jobs as rewards to politicians who have supported them, and short term populist measures to try to convince the people that their election promises meant something, which leaves nothing for long-term development. As far as development is concerned, our system has all the worst features of oligarchy and democracy put together." 


Recently released book "The Bhutto Dynasty" details specific instances and Benazir Bhutto's candid admission of how the Bhutto dynasty has used money for political and personal gain in Pakistan. Other sources, such as leaked Panama Papers, reinforce how Pakistani political dynasties, including Bhuttos and Sharifs, have enriched themselves at the expanse of Pakistan's poor. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Political Patronage in Pakistan

Zardari Corruption

Panama Papers

US Aid to Pakistan

1971 Debacle in East Pakistan

Is it 1971 Moment in Pakistan's History?

Mission RAW by RK Yadav: India in East Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto Gave Birth to Taliban

What if Musharraf Had Said No to US After 911?

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel


Riaz Haq said...

The historian Ian Buruma argued that Daughter of the East had been written to ‘enchant Western readers’.

In it Benazir Bhutto described her life in a way that played to Western perceptions of the East and resonated with Western mythic traditions: hers was the story..

..of a vulnerable young woman overcoming archaic tradition & deep prejudice,surviving years of hardship and exile to avenge her father’s death at the hands of a wicked, all-powerful man.

Buruma wrote that Benazir had a double life: the Larkana Bhutto and the Radcliffe Bhutto.

A 1998 exchange of letters with the highly regarded PPP senator, lawyer, and human rights activist Iqbal Haider revealed another aspect of BB's personality that even some of her most ardent supporters found difficult to defend: "the feudal mindset she never escaped."

The Double Life of Benazir Bhutto
Ian Buruma

Political autobiography, as a genre, tends to produce tiresome, self-serving, ghost-written works. But once in a while a book stands out; not necessarily because it is better written than the usual stuff, but because it is the closest thing we have to classic mythology. The message is moral; the characters stand for Good and Evil; the story is a variation of the quest for a holy grail, involving not just hardship—“tests”—but exile of one kind or another. The authorship is often anonymous—ghostwriters seldom reveal their names.

When the heroes and villains come from countries where pure myths still cast their spells, where, as a Pakistani politician recently put it to me, “words have magic,” these political fairy tales follow the traditional patterns more closely than in the modern West, where the drama tends to get lost in media buzzwords, earnest political analysis, academic jargon, or a ghastly combination of all three. Besides, the complexity of modern life leaves little room for mythical feats of heroism. Good and evil are not so clear-cut. Our politics, as puritans of all persuasions keep telling us, has lost its moral dimension.

We can be just as much enchanted by myths of course, and sometimes something approaching classic myth will occur: Winston Churchill emerging from “his years in the wilderness” (exile) to save the world from evil dragons in the name of freedom and democracy (the grail). But this could only happen in a war, and Churchill was rather exceptional in that he was the greatest narrator of his own myth—no ghostwriters for him. Today’s great leaders, the Iron Lady, the Gipper, even Gorby, might aspire to mythical status, but cannot really pull it off convincingly.

No, for the truly inspiring tales we must turn to that mythical land called The Third World. That is where we can escape from not so much the decadence as the banality of Western life, and be enchanted once again, like children, our disbelief suspended. More than that, in the third world we can retrieve the pure moral order that we feel is lost to us in the West. The story of Cory Aquino—already made into a TV miniseries, by Australians I believe—was perfect: she, a religious paragon of modesty and virtue, her opponents, symbols of villainy and greed. How enchanting it must have been in 1986 for American senators and congressmen to take a break from their daily affairs and don yellow ribbons for St. Cory of Manila.

Riaz Haq said...

Zulfikar described himself as having had two very different influences: his feudal background in Sindh and his Western education. Benazir was in a similar situation. As the Pakistani leftist Tariq Ali put it, the author of Daughter of the East was really a ‘daughter of the West’. The historian Ian Buruma wrote that Benazir had a double life: the Larkana Bhutto and the Radcliffe Bhutto. The Larkana Bhutto used to sit in the family home in Sindh listening to her father telling stories about the family history. The Radcliffe Bhutto had got to know about apple cider and Joan Baez, gone on peace marches in Boston and owned a sports car in Oxford.1 Buruma’s analysis irked Benazir’s loyalists, who saw it as overly simplistic and not without a hint of orientalism. Her national security adviser, Iqbal Akhund, wrote: ‘In one respect Benazir defied orientalist stereotypes: she was no willowy, veiled seductress skilled in the ways of fascinating men. Rather she was a powerful woman who dominated those around her . . . she was imperious: when she spoke, she expected people to listen whether they be voters in a village, colleagues at the cabinet table or the rulers of foreign states.’2 Buruma argued that Daughter of the East had been written to ‘enchant Western readers’. In it she described her life in a way which played to Western perceptions of the East and resonated with Western mythic traditions: hers was the story of a vulnerable young woman overcoming archaic tradition and deep prejudice, surviving years of hardship and exile to avenge her father’s death at the hands of a wicked, all-powerful man. But while Westerners saw a heroine, many Pakistanis, wearily familiar with their feudal masters, saw something else. By her own admission, Benazir was ‘moody, impetuous, given to irritation’. In 1999 she said she had tried for twenty years to control her emotions but ‘I still fly off the handle’.3 When Westerners admired a highly educated modern champion of democracy, many Pakistani voters responded to an aristocrat tapping into ancient, ingrained patterns of authority.

Bennett-Jones, Owen. The Bhutto Dynasty (pp. 237-238). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

Benazir Bhutto's interview with Alice Winkler in year 2000 (at 22:52):

"Now I say that when there were these demands, why didn't I have the — I did say make an information act but didn't follow it through, so I wish I had given more freedom of information. I wish I had tackled the so-called corruption issues more deeply. It was a precedent, you know. We all knew
kickbacks must be taken. Not personally, but on the level that, "Well, these things happen." And it wasn't like, "Well, we're here to change it." It was like, "This is how business is done.""

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan court orders #Sindh govt to provide details of #corrupt officials’ plea bargain with #NAB. Many have been reappointed and some even promoted by #PPP govt after entering into a plea bargain and voluntary return of #corruption money. #Pakistan

The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the provincial chief secretary to file complete details of the cases of government servants who entered into a plea bargain and voluntary return scheme with the National Accountability Bureau in graft cases by Dec 21.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar also issued notices to the NAB chairman, Sindh chief secretary and other respondents as well as the top federal and provincial law officers on a petition of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan against reappointments and promotions of officials in different departments of Sindh after entering into a plea bargain and voluntary return scheme with NAB.

MQM-P deputy convener Kanwar Naveed Jameel moved the SHC and contended that the provincial government had allowed promotions and postings of more than 500 officials after plea bargain in corruption cases.

The lawyer for the petitioner argued that it was a gross violation of law as such officials came within the ambit of misconduct and needed to be departmentally proceeded against since they admitted to having acquired assets through corruption.

MQM-P contends that over 500 beneficiaries in graft cases reappointed, promoted in violation of law

He further maintained that such officials could not hold any public office either in the federal or provincial government or in any state-owned organisation.

The counsel also questioned Section 25(a) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 for authorising the NAB chairman to accept such offers and asked the SHC to examine vires of this provision since he contended that it was in conflict with the provisions of the Constitution where such powers can only be exercised by a judicial forum.

Riaz Haq said...

Crisis of #Pakistani #democracy. Most of these dynastic political groups have actively collaborated with successive #military regimes in order to protect their vested interests and receive state patronage. #PPP #PMLN #PDM #Bhutto #Zardari #NawazSharif

A number of political parties that form the PDM have been in power in the past and some of them still have strong stakes in the current engineered system. Each one has played the establishment’s game in the past to protect its own interests and may be willing to do so again.

While refusing to talk to the PTI government, some of the alliance leaders appear ready to negotiate with the security agencies. Back-room contacts never cease. It is not surprising that the PDM is divided on the issue of resigning from parliament. One can also understand the PPP’s refusal to give up the Sindh government as such a move could sound the death knell for the party whose political clout is restricted to the province.

For over 70 years, the country has alternated between authoritarian military regimes and ineffective elected civilian rule. But there have been no fundamental changes to Pakistan’s political power structure. A small power elite has dominated the country’s political scene under civilian as well as military rule.

The extractive nature of the state’s institutions has prevented the country from embarking on a path of economic and political progress. Despite the economic and social changes that have occurred over the past seven decades, the stranglehold of family-oriented politics remains. A limited number of influential families continue to control Pakistani legislatures.

A sense of dynastic entitlement dominates the country’s political culture impeding the development of institutional democracy. With few exceptions, political parties are an extension of powerful families with hereditary leaders. There is no concept of intra-party democracy. The only change is the transfer of leadership from one generation to the next.

Over the years, families from urban, religious and military backgrounds have also emerged on the political scene, but this has not changed Pakistan’s personalised and dynastic political culture. Studies show that a few hundred families have monopolised the political scene in Pakistan. Interestingly, hereditary politics have been stren­gthened under successive military governments.

Dynastic control has dire implications for our political and economic institutions. It reduces the legitimacy of a government, impacts the quality of government policies, promotes patronage and corruption and has negative consequences through the selection effect.

Most of these dynastic political groups have actively collaborated with successive military regimes in order to protect their vested interests and receive state patronage. The control of a narrow oligarchic elite and the patriarchal political system have impeded critical structural reforms that are needed for sustainable economic development and to strengthen democratic and economic institutions.

Riaz Haq said...

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: Pakistan's most divisive political leader
Harris Khalique

His PPP won a majority of National Assembly seats in West Pakistan in the general elections of 1970 but he had no support in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) where Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League swept the polls, winning all but two National Assembly seats there.

This is where we see another major contradiction in his politics — he did not side with the democratic principle of majority rule and opposed the transfer of power to Sheikh Mujeeb. It will be, however, unfair to single him out because there was a consensus among the elites of West Pakistan – military, bureaucracy, politicians and business – not to accept Mujeeb’s mandate and allow him to rule a united Pakistan. It was also the military that was in power then, not Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Still, he cannot be absolved of his support for a military action in East Pakistan that culminated in its secession from West Pakistan.


....his policy of nationalising nascent and growing industry, banks and lending institutions as well as private and charitable trust schools and colleges had far reaching consequences on the growth and output of these sectors. Even more socially and politically consequential was a constitutional amendment under him that declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims.

His half-baked socialist model applied in haste began to crack immediately, particularly because landlords subverted his land reforms and the usual bureaucratic inefficiencies crept into the administration of nationalised businesses. He never got time to fix the problems and was removed within six years of coming into power.

Since no single leader could replace him and no single party could challenge his PPP, the state establishment forged an alliance of his political adversaries of all ideological hues and colours before the 1977 parliamentary elections which he was accused of rigging. The allegation led to a violent opposition movement that his government unsuccessfully tried to suppress. It was eventually followed by a military takeover.

The last and crucial phase of his political career started in July 1977 – after his government was overthrown – and ended in April 1979 when he was convicted for murder in a highly controversial trial and hanged by Ziaul Haq. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto faced those tough times with courage and conviction. He never budged under pressure from an oppressive military ruler. The last two years of his life are entirely opposite to his first eight years in politics when he was working with non-elected rulers. This split in his career is mirrored in the way he is seen — evoking extreme like and dislike.

For his supporters, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto symbolises the best elements in politics: struggle against poverty and inequality as well as sacrifices for democracy and civilian supremacy. For his detractors, he remains the man who played a major role in the division of the country and introduced policies that upset the economic and social equilibrium.

Riaz Haq said...


Broadsheet LLC

- and -
(1) The Islamic Republic of Pakistan (2) The National Accountability Bureau


Sir Anthony Evans 24 Lincoln’s Inn Fields London

Date: Dec 17, 2018


Stroz Friedberg was instructed to carry out a ‘forensic audit’ (or ‘inventory’) of the JIT Report. This consisted of identifying potentially recoverable assets of the Sharif Family that were referred to in it and ascribing a valuation to each. This resulted in a list of 76 items of property in three overseas jurisdictions, namely, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the United Kingdom, as well as in Pakistan, with total values that were corrected in the Revised SF Report to take account of Mr. Bezant’s comments on it. The revised total was US$820.8 million. The third instruction was “to apply the 20% rate due Broadsheet as outlined in the ARA” – a mechanical application of the 20% rate provided four in the ARA clause 4 – which resulted in a total ‘Loss of Revenue’ for Broadsheet of US$164.2 million. The fourth was to establish a ‘borrowing rate of interest’ for each of the 76 items of loss and to apply it from what they considered was the appropriate date. The interest calculation increased the total of ‘Broadsheet’s Entitlement’ to US$304.6 million.


The 2017/8 proceedings, however, in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, including the JIT Investigation and Report, have produced a very different situation where (subject to pending appeals) there is an authoritative listing of personal and family assets totalling (as corrected) US$820 million, both in Pakistan and abroad, and where certain real property in the United Kingdom valued at US$13 million (“the Avenfield flats”) has been forfeited to the Pakistan State as having been acquired with corrupt assets. These call for separate consideration in this Award.


As stated above, the total value of assets both in Pakistan and overseas listed by the JIT is agreed by the expert witnesses as US$820 million. Whilst accepting that this figure must be discounted to take account of many factors, not least the costs of recovery etc., Claimant’s representatives have put it forward as what might be called the gross amount of possible recoveries by NAB for the purpose of calculating Broadsheet’s potential entitlement to 20 per cent, under the ARA Clause 4.

Riaz Haq said...

Foreigners are buying single-family #homes in #American suburbs, bidding up prices. They are partnering with U.S. #housing companies to buy or build #rental homes, following in the footsteps of big #US #investment firms & pension funds. #realestate

Big foreign investment firms that buy office buildings, hotels and shopping centers around the world have a new favorite real-estate play: single-family homes in American suburbs.

These institutions are partnering with U.S. housing companies to buy or build rental homes by the thousands. In suburban neighborhoods near cities such as Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix, blocks of families are sending monthly rent checks to ventures backed by Canadian pension funds, European insurers, and Asian or Middle Eastern government-run funds.

The overseas investors are following in the footsteps of many big U.S. investment firms and pension funds, which started buying single-family homes on a large scale in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Foreign investors barely registered in these markets a few years ago. Now, they account for nearly a third of institutional investment in single-family rental homes, said Alex Foshay, head of international capital markets at real-estate services firm Newmark.

“There’s been very limited overseas investment into the single-family rental space prior to Covid, but nothing on this scale,” he said.