Only a Mega Dam….

by Khurshid Anwer

Benazir Bhutto must be gloating in her grave to see her arch rival squirming in the hot seat. A hot seat that is of her making. She wielded a double edged sword to decapitate Pakistan. Inducted the IPPs to run on oil at 10 dollars per barrel, not knowing that the 10 dollars would become 100 dollars and the cost per unit would become 18 rupees. When she could have had the same unit for 1 rupee.

But God forbid that she would build a dam in Punjab. The ignoramus thought that Sindh would become a desert. Did she really think so or was she being too clever for her own good as usual. Nothing can save Sindh from becoming a desert now. More and more irrigated acres are becoming barren by the year, and of the 30 million acres lying fallow, 80% are in Sindh with no water for them.

The two blunders put together have brought the country to a standstill. No electricity to run the fan or light the bulb and no water to drink. The only thing that is more prolonged than the load shedding is the excruciating misery of the men, women and children, forced to come out on the streets, and this is just the beginning with no end in sight.

The wheels of industry have ground down to a halt, the workers too are out on the streets with no hope for work even in the distant future. Agriculture is thirsting for water and food shedding is round the corner. Power riots now and food riots to follow. The damage done to the country appears to be irreparable. Only a mega dam in the next few years can save the situation, but God forbid – – – – – .

How could one person have done so much harm to so many.  

Khurshid Anwer

Advertisements

The Destabilization of Pakistan

 

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, December 27, 2012

Url of this article:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-destabilization-of-pakistan/7705

Author’s Note

This article first published five years ago in December 2007 focuses on the historical process of collapse of Pakistan as a nation state following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Washington’s intent goes beyond the narrow objective of “regime change”. The thrust of US foreign policy consists in weakening the central government and fracturing the country.

The ongoing US drone attacks under the banner of the “Global War on Terrorism” are part of that process.

Washington had already envisaged a scenario of disintegration and civil war. According to a 2005 report by the US National Intelligence Council and the CIA, Pakistan is slated to become a “failed state” by 2015, “as it would be affected by civil war, complete Talibanisation and struggle for control of its nuclear weapons”.

What is not mentioned in this report is that the destabilization process (including the drone attacks) is part of a longstanding US led intelligence operation.

Michel Chossudovsky, December 27, 2012

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has created conditions which contribute to the ongoing destabilization and fragmentation of Pakistan as a Nation.

The process of US sponsored “regime change”, which normally consists in the re-formation of a fresh proxy government under new leaders has been broken. Discredited in the eyes of Pakistani public opinion, General Pervez Musharaf cannot remain in the seat of political power. But at the same time, the fake elections supported by the “international community” scheduled for January 2008, even if they were to be carried out, would not be accepted as legitimate, thereby creating a political impasse.

There are indications that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto was anticipated by US officials:

“It has been known for months that the Bush-Cheney administration and its allies have been maneuvering to strengthen their political control of Pakistan, paving the way for the expansion and deepening of the “war on terrorism” across the region.

Various American destabilization plans, known for months by officials and analysts, proposed the toppling of Pakistan’s military…

The assassination of Bhutto appears to have been anticipated. There were even reports of “chatter” among US officials about the possible assassinations of either Pervez Musharraf or Benazir Bhutto, well before the actual attempts took place. (Larry Chin, Global Research, 29 December 2007)

Political Impasse

“Regime change” with a view to ensuring continuity under military rule is no longer the main thrust of US foreign policy. The regime of Pervez Musharraf cannot prevail. Washington’s foreign policy course is to actively promote the political fragmentation and balkanization of Pakistan as a nation.

A new political leadership is anticipated but in all likelihood it will take on a very different shape, in relation to previous US sponsored regimes. One can expect that Washington will push for a compliant political leadership, with no commitment to the national interest, a leadership which will serve US imperial interests, while concurrently contributing under the disguise of “decentralization”, to the weakening of the central government and the fracture of Pakistan’s fragile federal structure.

The political impasse is deliberate. It is part of an evolving US foreign policy agenda, which favors disruption and disarray in the structures of the Pakistani State. Indirect rule by the Pakistani military and intelligence apparatus is to be replaced by more direct forms of US interference, including an expanded US military presence inside Pakistan.

This expanded military presence is also dictated by the Middle East-Central Asia geopolitical situation and Washington’s ongoing plans to extend the Middle East war to a much broader area.

The US has several military bases in Pakistan. It controls the country’s air space. According to a recent report: “U.S. Special Forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan, as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counterterrorism units” (William Arkin, Washington Post, December 2007).

The official justification and pretext for an increased military presence in Pakistan is to extend the “war on terrorism”. Concurrently, to justify its counterrorism program, Washington is also beefing up its covert support to the “terrorists.”

The Balkanization of Pakistan

Already in 2005, a report by the US National Intelligence Council and the CIA forecast a “Yugoslav-like fate” for Pakistan “in a decade with the country riven by civil war, bloodshed and inter-provincial rivalries, as seen recently in Balochistan.” (Energy Compass, 2 March 2005). According to the NIC-CIA, Pakistan is slated to become a “failed state” by 2015, “as it would be affected by civil war, complete Talibanisation and struggle for control of its nuclear weapons”. (Quoted by former Pakistan High Commissioner to UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Times of India, 13 February 2005):

“Nascent democratic reforms will produce little change in the face of opposition from an entrenched political elite and radical Islamic parties. In a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the Central government’s control probably will be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi,” the former diplomat quoted the NIC-CIA report as saying.

Expressing apprehension, Hasan asked, “are our military rulers working on a similar agenda or something that has been laid out for them in the various assessment reports over the years by the National Intelligence Council in joint collaboration with CIA?” (Ibid)

Continuity, characterized by the dominant role of the Pakistani military and intelligence has been scrapped in favor of political breakup and balkanization.

According to the NIC-CIA scenario, which Washington intends to carry out: “Pakistan will not recover easily from decades of political and economic mismanagement, divisive policies, lawlessness, corruption and ethnic friction,” (Ibid) .

The US course consists in fomenting social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including the territorial breakup of Pakistan. This course of action is also dictated by US war plans in relation to both Afghanistan and Iran.

This US agenda for Pakistan is similar to that applied throughout the broader Middle East Central Asian region. US strategy, supported by covert intelligence operations, consists in triggering ethnic and religious strife, abetting and financing secessionist movements while also weakening the institutions of the central government.

The broader objective is to fracture the Nation State and redraw the borders of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Oil and Gas reserves

Pakistan’s extensive oil and gas reserves, largely located in Balochistan province, as well as its pipeline corridors are considered strategic by the Anglo-American alliance, requiring the concurrent militarization of Pakistani territory.

Balochistan comprises more than 40 percent of Pakistan’s land mass, possesses important reserves of oil and natural gas as well as extensive mineral resources.

The Iran-India pipeline corridor is slated to transit through Balochistan. Balochistan also possesses a deap sea port largely financed by China located at Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea, not far from the Straits of Hormuz where 30 % of the world’s daily oil supply moves by ship or pipeline. (Asia News.it, 29 December 2007)

Pakistan has an estimated 25.1 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven gas reserves of which 19 trillion are located in Balochistan. Among foreign oil and gas contractors in Balochistan are BP, Italy’s ENI, Austria’s OMV, and Australia’s BHP. It is worth noting that Pakistan’s State oil and gas companies, including PPL which has the largest stake in the Sui oil fields of Balochistan are up for privatization under IMF-World Bank supervision.

According to the Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Pakistan had proven oil reserves of 300 million barrels, most of which are located in Balochistan. Other estimates place Balochistan oil reserves at an estimated six trillion barrels of oil reserves both on-shore and off-shore (Environment News Service, 27 October 2006) .

Covert Support to Balochistan Separatists

Balochistan’s strategic energy reserves have a bearing on the separatist agenda. Following a familiar pattern, there are indications that the Baloch insurgency is being supported and abetted by Britain and the US.

The Baloch national resistance movement dates back to the late 1940s, when Balochistan was invaded by Pakistan. In the current geopolitical context, the separatist movement is in the process of being hijacked by foreign powers.

British intelligence is allegedly providing covert support to Balochistan separatists (which from the outset have been repressed by Pakistan’s military). In June 2006, Pakistan’s Senate Committee on Defence accused British intelligence of “abetting the insurgency in the province bordering Iran” [Balochistan]..(Press Trust of India, 9 August 2006). Ten British MPs were involved in a closed door session of the Senate Committee on Defence regarding the alleged support of Britain’s Secret Service to Baloch separatists (Ibid). Also of relevance are reports of CIA and Mossad support to Baloch rebels in Iran and Southern Afghanistan.

It would appear that Britain and the US are supporting both sides. The US is providing American F-16 jets to the Pakistani military, which are being used to bomb Baloch villages in Balochistan. Meanwhile, British alleged covert support to the separatist movement (according to the Pakistani Senate Committee) contributes to weakening the central government.

The stated purpose of US counter-terrorism is to provide covert support as well as as training to “Liberation Armies” ultimately with a view to destabilizing sovereign governments. In Kosovo, the training of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the 1990s had been entrusted to a private mercenary company, Military Professional Resources Inc (MPRI), on contract to the Pentagon.

The BLA bears a canny resemblance to Kosovo’s KLA, which was financed by the drug trade and supported by the CIA and Germany’s Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND).

The BLA emerged shortly after the 1999 military coup. It has no tangible links to the Baloch resistance movement, which developed since the late 1940s. An aura of mystery surrounds the leadership of the BLA.

Distribution of Balochs is marked in pink.

Baloch population in Pink: In Iran, Pakistan and Southern Afghanistan

Washington favors the creation of a “Greater Balochistan” which would integrate the Baloch areas of Pakistan with those of Iran and possibly the Southern tip of Afghanistan (See Map above), thereby leading to a process of political fracturing in both Iran and Pakistan.

“The US is using Balochi nationalism for staging an insurgency inside Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan province. The ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan gives a useful political backdrop for the ascendancy of Balochi militancy” (See Global Research, 6 March 2007).

Military scholar Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters writing in the June 2006 issue of The Armed Forces Journal, suggests, in no uncertain terms that Pakistan should be broken up, leading to the formation of a separate country: “Greater Balochistan” or “Free Balochistan” (see Map below). The latter would incorporate the Pakistani and Iranian Baloch provinces into a single political entity.

In turn, according to Peters, Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) should be incorporated into Afghanistan “because of its linguistic and ethnic affinity”. This proposed fragmentation, which broadly reflects US foreign policy, would reduce Pakistani territory to approximately 50 percent of its present land area. (See map). Pakistan would also loose a large part of its coastline on the Arabian Sea.

Although the map does not officially reflect Pentagon doctrine, it has been used in a training program at NATO’s Defense College for senior military officers. This map, as well as other similar maps, have most probably been used at the National War Academy as well as in military planning circles. (See Mahdi D. Nazemroaya, Global Research, 18 November 2006)

“Lieutenant-Colonel Peters was last posted, before he retired to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, within the U.S. Defence Department, and has been one of the Pentagon’s foremost authors with numerous essays on strategy for military journals and U.S. foreign policy.” (Ibid)


Map: click to enlarge

It is worth noting that secessionist tendencies are not limited to Balochistan. There are separatist groups in Sindh province, which are largely based on opposition to the Punjabi-dominated military regime of General Pervez Musharraf (For Further details see Selig Harrisson, Le Monde diplomatique, October 2006)

“Strong Economic Medicine”: Weakening Pakistan’s Central Government

Pakistan has a federal structure based on federal provincial transfers. Under a federal fiscal structure, the central government transfers financial resources to the provinces, with a view to supporting provincial based programs. When these transfers are frozen as occurred in Yugoslavia in January 1990, on orders of the IMF, the federal fiscal structure collapses:

“State revenues that should have gone as transfer payments to the republics [of the Yugoslav federation] went instead to service Belgrade’s debt … . The republics were largely left to their own devices. … The budget cuts requiring the redirection of federal revenues towards debt servicing, were conducive to the suspension of transfer payments by Belgrade to the governments of the Republics and Autonomous Provinces.

In one fell swoop, the reformers had engineered the final collapse of Yugoslavia’s federal fiscal structure and mortally wounded its federal political institutions. By cutting the financial arteries between Belgrade and the republics, the reforms fueled secessionist tendencies that fed on economic factors as well as ethnic divisions, virtually ensuring the de facto secession of the republics. (Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, Second Edition, Global Research, Montreal, 2003, Chapter 17.)

It is by no means accidental that the 2005 National Intelligence Council- CIA report had predicted a “Yugoslav-like fate” for Pakistan pointing to the impacts of “economic mismanagement” as one of the causes of political break-up and balkanization.

“Economic mismanagement” is a term used by the Washington based international financial institutions to describe the chaos which results from not fully abiding by the IMF’s Structural Adjustment Program. In actual fact, the “economic mismanagement” and chaos is the outcome of IMF-World Bank prescriptions, which invariably trigger hyperinflation and precipitate indebted countries into extreme poverty.

Pakistan has been subjected to the same deadly IMF “economic medicine” as Yugoslavia: In 1999, in the immediate wake of the coup d’Etat which brought General Pervez Musharaf to the helm of the military government, an IMF economic package, which included currency devaluation and drastic austerity measures, was imposed on Pakistan. Pakistan’s external debt is of the order of US$40 billion. The IMF’s “debt reduction” under the package was conditional upon the sell-off to foreign capital of the most profitable State owned enterprises (including the oil and gas facilities in Balochistan) at rockbottom prices .

Musharaf’s Finance Minister was chosen by Wall Street, which is not an unusual practice. The military rulers appointed at Wall Street’s behest, a vice-president of Citigroup, Shaukat Aziz, who at the time was head of CitiGroup’s Global Private Banking. (See WSWS.org, 30 October 1999). CitiGroup is among the largest commercial foreign banking institutions in Pakistan.

There are obvious similarities in the nature of US covert intelligence operations applied in country after country in different parts of the so-called “developing World”. These covert operation, including the organisation of military coups, are often synchronized with the imposition of IMF-World Bank macro-economic reforms. In this regard, Yugoslavia’s federal fiscal structure collapsed in 1990 leading to mass poverty and heightened ethnic and social divisions. The US and NATO sponsored “civil war” launched in mid-1991 consisted in coveting Islamic groups as well as channeling covert support to separatist paramilitary armies in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia.

A similar “civil war” scenario has been envisaged for Pakistan by the National Intelligence Council and the CIA: From the point of view of US intelligence, which has a longstanding experience in abetting separatist “liberation armies”, “Greater Albania” is to Kosovo what “Greater Balochistan” is to Pakistan’s Southeastern Balochistan province. Similarly, the KLA is Washington’s chosen model, to be replicated in Balochistan province.

The Assassination of Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi, no ordinary city. Rawalpindi is a military city host to the headquarters of the Pakistani Armed Forces and Military Intelligence (ISI). Ironically Bhutto was assassinated in an urban area tightly controlled and guarded by the military police and the country’s elite forces. Rawalpindi is swarming with ISI intelligence officials, which invariably infiltrate political rallies. Her assassination was not a haphazard event.

Without evidence, quoting Pakistan government sources, the Western media in chorus has highlighted the role of Al-Qaeda, while also focusing on the the possible involvement of the ISI.

What these interpretations do not mention is that the ISI continues to play a key role in overseeing Al Qaeda on behalf of US intelligence. The press reports fail to mention two important and well documented facts:

1) the ISI maintains close ties to the CIA. The ISI is virtually an appendage of the CIA.

2) Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA. The ISI provides covert support to Al Qaeda, acting on behalf of US intelligence.

The involvement of either Al Qaeda and/or the ISI would suggest that US intelligence was cognizant and/or implicated in the assassination plot.

[Part Two: Pakistan and the "Global War on Terrorism" at
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7746]

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international bestseller America’s “War on Terrorism” Global Research, 2005. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization.

Copyright © 2012 Global Research

Zardari – New dams need of the hour.

by Khurshid Anwer

Pagal oye Pagal                                                                                    aaz185_394665a

I thought may be at last he has decided to leave the apron strings of his deceased party leader to go for Kalabagh dam. But then he directs the Sindh government to step up work on building new dams in the province.

This is the man who stood at the ‘Three Gorges Dam’ in China and said we will build dams like this. Some one should educate him that gorges are found only in the mountains and not is the deserts of Sindh.

One such gorge is the 10 mile long Attock Gorge which will serve as a 260 feet deep reservoir for Kalabagh dam, as also the Sohan river right up to Dhok Pathan on the Dhulian Balkassar road.

In Australia, provinces not having suitable sites for dams have contributed funds for building of dams where they can be built to be able to share the power and water thus produced.

Is it because the people there are more educated. No, PPP also has many educated people. The difference is that those people have not had a hare-brained leader like Benazir Bhutto who would have put them up against dams.                                       Benazir Bhutto_pic6

This act of hers is so contrary to common sense and logic that it defies description, except by the use of language which cannot be used here.

Now look at the Junior Pagal:                                                                     Yusuf Raza gilani

PM vows to resolve environment issues. He has directed necessary measures for disposal of trash left by the visitors on the glaciers which was polluting the pristine environment of our natural heritage.

Can you beat this? He is worried about the trash on the glaciers but not about the IPPs, the RPPs and Thar Coal which are and will pollute the atmosphere which will do  more damage to his ‘pristine heritage’ than mere trash will. The thought of producing clean power in thousands of megawatts has not entered his mind for reasons well known. 

But the devotees of the Deity remain unfazed. They take all criticism in their stride as long as their party remains in power. "My leader, good or bad".

Benazir Bhutto’s boys

by Lydia Slater
10.05.10

 

Prince Nicholas Khan-Roper and Prince Jason Khan

Prince Nicholas Khan-Roper (left) and Prince Jason Khan (right) on The Yacht London in April

Prince Nicholas Khan-Roper and Prince Jason Khan Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto’s  Boys

It’s hard to imagine a more glamorous prospect than lunch on a yacht with a tall, dark and handsome prince. Unless, of course, it’s lunch on a yacht with three of them. Such is the situation as I sit forking down scallops in the sunny dining room of The Yacht London, a 1920s steam vessel moored at Temple Pier, with Prince Nicholas Khan-Roper on my right and Prince Jason Khan on my left. In the background, their father Prince Sidi Mohammed Muzzafar Khan (known to his circle as Poncho) is effortlessly working the dining room, his sunglasses pushed up on to his forehead. With the sunlight twinkling on the water and the Chardonnay glugging into the glasses, this looks like a scene of purest hedonism, but it’s more complicated than that.
The princes are members of the politically powerful and tragedy-stricken Bhutto clan. Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December 2007, was their father’s first cousin. More significantly, she was a second mother to Jason, 37, who lived with her for ten years after the death of his own mother, and was actually on her campaign bus when it was blown up by militants in the autumn of 2007. Two months later, another assassin succeeded in murdering Pakistan‘s first female prime minister.

AAZ

The yacht, leased by the Khans from the Port of London Authority last February, was once used to entertain dignitaries, including ‘Auntie’herself, so the Art Deco cocktail lounge, the champagne bar on the top deck, the leather chairs and the fine dining are all to be expected.
But what the boys are proudest of is the yacht’s status as a floating office. Meeting rooms, secretarial services, an answering service and conference facilities are all on offer to members, who pay up to £10,000 annually and include HRH Prince Nicholas of Greece (son of King Constantine). Honorary members include the philanthropist Peter Cruddas, one of the City’s richest men, the Conservative MP Michael Ancram and The Carphone Warehouse founder Charles Dunstone. The Khans’idea is to introduce young entrepreneurs like themselves to the sort of wealthy business types who could give them a leg-up.

‘I’ve owned my own company since I was 26. If I’d had a few introductions, I’d have progressed more rapidly,’explains Nicholas, 31, though you would have thought his connections could have brought him all the introductions necessary. He works as an independent financial adviser and looks like an old-fashioned film star. (Sadly, he’s engaged, to the daughter of an ex-wife of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.) ‘That’s why this project is so important to us. It will allow us to open doors and have more influence than we might by just being businessmen.’

The brothers also plan to use the yacht to host charitable events and allow the charities access to their well-heeled members. The yacht’s other purpose is to act as a hub for the numerous members of the Bhutto family who live in the UK. ‘Benazir kept us all together,’explains Jason, a slightly chunkier, more dynamic version of his brother. ‘Whenever she was here, everyone went to her house.’

‘I remember sitting in her living room, having a glass of wine and a cigarette and gossiping with her,’says Nicholas. ‘We used to gossip about girls and who I should marry – she was a great matchmaker. So, for our generation, the boat will be our new focus. We’re going to have family meals here on a regular basis.’

Several family members are involved with the yacht already: Nicholas is managing director of the club, Jason’s wife Juliette is the marketing director, and their father has an advisory role.
Last October, the boat was the location for the 21st birthday party of Bilawal Bhutto, Benazir’s son and political heir, who has been the chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party since his mother’s death, and is also a student at Christ Church, Oxford. ‘What I like about him is that he has a fun side, he lets his hair down with us,’says Nicholas. ‘But it’s hard for him to know who to trust.’

AAZ 002

Bilawal’s sisters Bakhtawar, 19, and Asifa, 17, are both studying in Edinburgh and see their cousins regularly. ‘They are like my sisters,’says Jason, who was living with Benazir Bhutto when Asifa was born. Sanam, Benazir’s sister, attended a party on the boat last week.
Not every Bhutto is on board, however. Their cousin Fatima, a glamorous poet and newspaper columnist who lives in Karachi and who allegedly dated George Clooney, recently published a book, Songs of Blood and Sword, a savage indictment of her aunt Benazir, whom she blames for the shooting of her father when she was 14. When the launch party was held last month (attended by Bob Geldof and Jemima Khan), it was not at The Yacht London but the Langham Hotel on Portland Place.
‘Fati’s father was the most important thing in her life,’explains Jason, who is fiercely loyal to Benazir. ‘The unfortunate thing was that her aunt was the prime minister. If she hadn’t been, I don’t think the logical train of thought would have led there. One can understand why she is upset, but I was there when Fati’s father was killed and I saw Benazir. Devastated is not the word. She collapsed, she had to be carried. But Fati wasn’t there so she doesn’t know that. They will definitely reunite, maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon.’Is he on good terms with Fatima? ‘I am. I don’t speak to her every day, but I’d definitely go and see her when I’m there.’

When one considers the trivial spats that lead British families to cold-shoulder each other for decades, it would seem ludicrous to suggest that a public accusation of murder could be forgiven. But the Bhutto family history is so steeped in internecine blood and violence that its members have simply had to get used to it.
The Khans’ paternal great-grandfather was the Nawab of Sachin, an Indian princely state near Mumbai. After Partition, when Pakistan became independent from India, their grandfather Colonel Mustafa Khan joined the Pakistani army, while two of his brothers fought on the Indian side. ‘There was a battle in which the youngest brother was shot, and they stopped the battle so that my grandfather could go and pick up his dead brother,’says Jason.
Colonel Mustafa married the eldest daughter of Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto, sister of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s president and then prime minister before his execution for a trumped-up charge of authorising the murder of a political opponent in 1979. He was Benazir’s father. Of Zulfikar’s four children, only the apolitical Sanam, who is based in West London, has been allowed to live in peace: the other three all died violently (the youngest brother, Shahnawaz, was poisoned in his villa in Nice in 1985, with French police suspecting his Afghan wife’s involvement). It was clearly a blessing in disguise that the Khans had to leave Pakistan after Zulfikar’s arrest in 1977 by the military dictator General Zia.
Poncho was already married to Stephanie, a half-Polish beauty who was literally the girl next door in Dolphin Square, where his parents had an apartment. The couple’s three sons (Alexander, 35, is also in finance) were born in Blackpool, Liverpool and Southport where, incongruously, their parents owned small hotels. Poncho also took over the Penthouse Club and, in partnership with Bob Guccione of Penthouse and ‘seducer of the Valleys’Dai Llewellyn, turned it into the Club Royale. But then Stephanie died of a severe asthma attack and Poncho fell ill with meningitis. Jason, then eight, and his younger brother Alexander, six, were looked after by their grandparents, while Nicholas, who was still a toddler, was taken in by friends. As if the family tree wasn’t confusing enough, when Nicholas speaks of his mother, he means Professor Gerda Roper, Dean of the School of Arts and Media at Teesside University, who brought him up.
Nicholas lived first in Wales, then Newcastle, and only came down to London to take his A levels at City & Islington College. By that time, Jason had gone to live with Benazir Bhutto after the death of his grandparents. ‘In 1992, Benazir invited me to work in her office. She was leader of the opposition, she had two young children, her husband was in jail and things were bad. Why would you invite someone else to live with you under those circumstances? But that was the sort of woman she was.’

AAZ 001

Bilawal recently found a two-page handwritten letter among his mother’s papers, headed ‘Tough Love’, and detailing the house rules Jason needed to follow and why. ‘We read it the other day and we were all sitting there in floods of tears,’says Nicholas.
During Jason’s ten years with Benazir, she took him on numerous state visits. ‘I’ve been to China, I’ve met Bill Clinton. North Korea was a strange experience,’he recalls. ‘I was sitting at a table with seven generals. Kim Il-Sung spoke for two hours and Benazir was given five minutes to respond.’When jet lag caused Jason to oversleep one morning, a guard was sent to wake him up and, failing to spot him in bed, reported him as a suspected spy.

The family lived on a knife edge. In 1996, Jason went to bed the prime minister’s nephew and woke up four hours later to find himself under house arrest. ‘We were in jail for five days, and her husband [Zardari, now president of Pakistan] was from that day on in prison.’

Benazir moved with her family and Jason to Dubai in 1999, shortly before Pervez Musharraf seized power. Understandably, when Musharraf granted her an amnesty and the withdrawal of corruption charges in 2007, Jason wanted to be with her for her return. He took his brother Alexander with him, Nicholas having failed to get a visa.
The triumphal procession was driving through Karachi in the middle of the night and the brothers were on the top deck of the open-top bus. ‘One minute I was looking at these very brave young security guards from our village,’says Jason, ‘and the next minute, there was nothing there. My shirt felt hot, and there was a hot, red rain. It was blood and guts. Then our boys saw another guy wearing padded clothes and they ran and dragged him away from the bus to protect her. They gave their own lives to protect Benazir.’More than 130 people were killed in the attack.
‘The luckiest thing that happened to me was that my younger brother was with me, so instead of seeing things, I went into protection mode. I knew the guards, the people, the language and I could get him off the bus.’Sometimes Jason gets nervous on the Tube these days. ‘I hate it about myself,’he says. Two months later, on 27 December, Jason was having a post-Christmas break at The Dorchester when the family heard that
Benazir had been assassinated.

Rather surprisingly, the experience hasn’t put Jason off politics. But with two young sons, Zachary, four, and Jago, two, he has revised his ambitions for a political career in Pakistan, and recently stood (unsuccessfully) for selection as a prospective Conservative candidate in the UK. ‘Politics is an honourable profession,’he insists, looking out of the window towards the Palace of Westminster. ‘When you’ve seen a 15-year-old boy blown to smithereens in front of you, you understand what people are willing to give up for politics. Of course I understand the apathy at the moment but it’s annoying that politicians here have created so much ill-will. The basic incentive to be a politician should be one of service.’

Meanwhile, Jason is using his political connections to fill the family club with movers and shakers. ‘Having seen Benazir close up through good and bad times, if I could make a thousandth of the difference, it would be great,’he says. ‘Being a banker and owning a yacht is all good stuff, but you don’t want to get to the end of your life without having made a difference.’