Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed has filed a petition in the Lahore High Court challenging “VIP culture”.
The petitioner, through his counsel AK Dogar, submitted that public functionaries “living like kings and princes in palatial government houses” were not following the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and were contravening the Constitution.
He said the governor of Punjab alone lived in a “palace” on 68 acres. He said commissioners lived in properties of 100 kanals each. “Let them be accommodated in residences of 5 marla each ... the battalion of servants who are dancing attendance on them must go,” read the petition.
Saeed noted that the British prime minister lived in a four-bedroom house built in the 17th Century and located in a small street. “When the sun never set on the British empire the chief executive of that great country lived in the same house of a few marlas in a small street. That is truly Islamic, that is like following the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (pbuh),” he said.
He said Pakistan’s rulers built air-conditioned stables for their horses and gave them costly jam to eat. Meanwhile, he said, hundreds of Pakistanis sifted through garbage to get food. He said there was a 75-year-old man named Lateef Khan who had been scavenging at Khyber Teaching Hospital for the last 30 years.
The petitioner said that the government spent Rs1 million per day on the staff, household and allowances of the president, Rs1.2 million on the prime minister’s secretariat, Rs2 million per day on the Senate, Rs4 million per day on the National Assembly and Rs200 million per day on the cabinet secretariat.
He said Pakistan was printing Rs3 billion per day in cash and that was why the inflation rate was so high. He said over the past four years, public debt had risen from Rs6 trillion to Rs12 trillion. He said now every man, woman and child in Pakistan was indebted to the tune of Rs 61,000 each.
The petitioner said that David Cameron used to ride a bicycle to the UK parliament before he became prime minister and had to switch to using an official car because of security concerns. He said London Mayor Boris Johnson went to work by bicycle.
Meanwhile, he said, President Asif Zardari had travelled to London in a private jet on Wednesday morning. He said that the jet had been parked at the airport at a cost of 600 pounds (Rs87,257) per day. The Pakistan High Commission booked a jet at 20,000 pounds (Rs2.908 million) per day to take the president and his family as well as High Commission officials from London to Edinburgh, a 40-minute plane ride, for Bakhtawar Bhutto’s graduation ceremony.
He said that customs and usages which were a legacy of the colonial era needed to be declared void under Article 8(1) and (2) of the Constitution.
He said that VIP and VVIP status was ultra vires of the constitutional provisions of equality, social and economic justice and principle of democracy as enunciated by Islam. He said the closing of roads for VIPs was a violation of fundamental rights. He said the presidency, prime minister’s house, governor’s houses, CMs’ houses, ministers’ enclave and “palaces of all state functionaries” should be declared a violation of the principle of social justice.
He said that the court should direct the government to abandon “luxurious living” in light of Article 38(b) of the Constitution. He said that all schools like Aitchison College in Lahore must open their gates to the children of the poor and the children of the rich and the poor must sit in the same class room and study the same syllabus. He said that no privileges of any kind including free electricity, gas or petrol should be provided to any person from the public exchequer.
The petitioner asked the court to direct the respondents – including the federal law secretary, the interior secretary, the Punjab chief secretary, the president and the prime minister to follow the example of state functionaries in the UK, who travelled in buses and trains. “Even though they are not Muslims they can be deemed to be followers of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (pbuh),” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.
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