British Prime Minister David Cameron has received praise from a most unlikely source -- Hafiz Saeed, a Pakistani militant and one of the world’s most wanted terrorists.
Saeed, who has a $10-million bounty on his head care of the U.S. government, commended Cameron, as well as the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, for their frugal lifestyles – in stark contrast to Pakistani elites who live of massive corruption and self-indulgence.
In a petition he filed in the High Court in Lahore to challenge Pakistan’s “VIP culture,” Saeed pointed out that senior Pakistani government officials live “like kings and princes in palatial government houses, while the British prime minister resides in a four-bedroom apartment.
When the sun never set on the British Empire the chief executive of that great country lived in the same house… in a small street. That is truly Islamic, that is like following the [path] of the Holy Prophet, he wrote in the petition.
Cameron may represent the interests of some fabulously wealthy and privileged Britons who are enamored of the Conservative Party, but some of the top leaders of Pakistan (a desperately poor country) live like absolute monarchs.
For example, Saeed contrasted Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari (who owns palatial homes in both Britain and Pakistan and sometimes flies to the UK on a private jet at tremendous cost to the Pakistani taxpayer) with Johnson, who actually rides a bicycle to work (a mode of transport Cameron was also fond of prior to moving to No. 10 Downing St.)
The new Prime Minister of Pakistan, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was recently condemned for guaranteeing his residency near Islamabad with round-the-clock electricity in a country where power blackouts are endemic.
Saeed also indicated that the governor of Punjab state lives in a “palace” which sits on 68 acres, while other provincial officials enjoy perks and luxuries beyond their value to society.
While Saeed may have a point about the huge lifestyle gap in Pakistan between the rich and poor, Cameron is unlikely to take any solace from his admiring words.
As the alleged founder of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Saeed has been accused of plotting the attacks which killed about 170 people in Mumbai in 2008. (Saeed has denied any links to LeT or of any culpability in the Mumbai attacks).
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.