We moan over inflation in Pakistan but I see that it is the same story in Britain. It has become a very expensive country. We moan over the property made by politicians and generals. Here, Tony Blair, until recently the (Labor) Prime Minister of Britain, has viewed a sixth property in Buckinghamshire, valued at 5.25 million pounds. No big deal: his spokesperson declined to comment, saying it was a private matter. We also bemoan the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, the rich raking in the national wealth and the crumbs from their table not falling to the poor who continue to increase in number. Related to that issue is the big story in London this week: the Sunday Times Rich List published on the 27th. Dubbed the "definitive guide to the rich 1000 in Britain and Ireland", the report reveals the rich have "quadrupled their wealth under Labor", their fortunes rising by 15% under Gordon Brown alone. This "when the financial squeeze and faltering house prices have hit ordinary people". "Having a friendly Labor government...has neutered politicians on the left", says Philip Beresford, the author of the list. In 1997 when Labor took over, the wealth of this group was a mere 98.99 billion. Since then it has gone up to 412.8 billion pounds. The man at the top of the list is Lakshmi Mittal, an Indian, the biggest name in steel, the sixth richest man in the world. Third in the ST Rich list in 1998, Mittal's wealth has grown by 44% in one year to 27.7 billion pounds. Rich Pakistanis in Britain, wining and dining the new government in Islamabad, figure nowhere in this list although Arabs, Iranians and other nationalities do. In fact 75 of the richest 1000 in Britain are foreigners from countries like Israel, Germany, Russia and India doing business in Britain. Such is the scale of their wealth that a Bahamas based entrepreneur hardly noticed a loss of 500 million pound when an American bank collapsed. Calling the levels of their giving "unprecedented", the paper has also listed top fifty philanthropists (no Mittal, no Asian or Muslim among them). Figuring third in the Giving List, Sir Tom Hunter's recent donations are estimated to be 1,013.8 million pounds. A distinguished Scot and a committed philanthropist, Sir Tom brings to humanitarian work in Rwanda, for example, the kind of abilities that helped him build his fortune. In the non-governmental sector he engages the best experts available in agriculture, healthcare and education to build a framework of development. One result is that coffee grown and marketed by poor Rwandan farmers is being sold, thanks to Tom Hunter's efforts, in Sainsbury's, the famous British grocery store. Margie Moffat, 85, another Scot, wants to do more for the humanitarian causes (Scottish and medical): she admits she cannot even spend the interest coming from her wealth. Also included in the list are the names of Sir Elton John, the celebrity singer; David Beckham the foot ball celebrity and his celebrity singer wife Victoria. The causes the givers support include humanitarian, educational, health, Aids/HIV, medical, arts, cultural, children related, human rights, poverty, environment and other miseries of man: the list is inexhaustible. The emerging reflection of course is that given the incompetence and corruption of governments, where would the world be without the philanthropists? Where are the rich Asians, Lakshmi Mittal and Hindujahs included? Figuring at 110th in the Rich List is Lord Laidlaw, one of Conservative Party's richest donors with assets estimated at 730 million pounds. Last fall, he gave them 3 million pounds after converting a loan into donation. A personally troubled man, Lord Laidlaw has fought a complex addiction for many years, in fact for most part of his adult life according to press reports. Having attended clinics abroad to cure him, he is now investigating different charities to give 1 million pounds for support to people who might suffer a similar addiction. I must admit to an instinctive dislike for the filthy rich, especially their conspicuous life style. At the same time I must also admit to a fondness for creature comforts and the good things of life that I can afford. But whereas it is easy to hate the rich because most people in the world are poor, it is difficult not to feel admiration for the philanthropist. Philanthropy is one of the noblest human values, one of the hallmarks of civilization. All religions extol philanthropy. Islam, a religion of practice rather than theory, puts great emphasis on generosity and sharing with the needy and the deprived. "Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened", said Lord Buddha. In a social context of interdependence, begging might be considered human. Giving, from that point of view, must be divine. Philanthropy can be the only justification for the filthy rich.