It's a common fact that politician’s lifestyles are far removed from those of their electorate. Understandably so! as their livelihood depends on exploiting the ignorance of the masses. But that's not the case with the President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, whose lifestyle differs sharply from that of most other world leaders. Laundry is strung outside the house, water comes from a well in the yard and both him and his wife spend time gardening.

When asked about his being labeled as the poorest President of the world, Jose Mujica replied "I'm called 'the poorest president', but I don't feel poor. Poor people are those who only work to try to keep an expensive lifestyle, and always want more and more". He went on to say "This is a matter of freedom. If you don't have many possessions then you don't need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself". His statement sums the very essence of our lives.

The real problem however is that when we think about the rich people, we envision them being surrounded by all the trappings of wealth. The truth can be to the contrary for exceptionally down to earth people still exist on our planet& despite having all the comforts of life available at their fingertips chose to live a much simpler life. One such individual is the billionaire Warren Buffett, a businessman, having a net wealth of around US $44 billion. He purchased a five-bedroom house in Omaha in 1958 for US $31,500 and has lived there ever since. He doesn't spend his money on electronics nor carries a cell phone or have a computer at his desk. Although he can afford a whole fleet of limousines, he prefers to drive himself his own old Cadillac.

However when we look at our own countrymen, their lust for flashy life styles boggles one's mind. It's not a matter of affordability but a matter of attitude which comes from having a hollow mental backwardness. The vulgarity of the monetary display is at best exhibited in particular by our parasite politicians from either side of the divide. Although this mental disease has crept into our society at every level, however the responsibility to exhibit austerity rests more with the elected representatives as they are the ones who represent the face of a society. 

Our three times (enough to qualify for a divorce) elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is reportedly the forth richest person of Pakistan at the time of writing this piece. He amassed a lot of wealth in Pakistan as well as outside the country. Sugar Mills, Foundries etc are just the tip of the iceberg of wealth he is sitting on. His grand palace in Riwand, Lahore puts to shame the lifestyle of our emperors. He wears a watch, a Louis Moinet “Meteoris” that has a price of US $4.6 million. According to the watchmaker Louis Moinet, the Meteoris watch includes pieces of actual meteorites, as well as pieces of the moon and asteroids. Ironically, he is the Prime Minister of a country having the biggest begging bowl in hand.

Then we have our Ex-President Mr. Asif Ali Zaradari, ironically representing the party of the poor. Pakistan’s state anti-corruption body has claimed that he has amassed a property empire worth almost £1 billion, with a chateau in France, homes in Britain, Spain and Florida, and many hidden bank accounts in Switzerland. The ownership of 335-acre Rockwood House in the North Downs in Surrey is another feather in his crown; not to mention the polo pitches, a stud farm and a golf course. Did I say he represents party of the Poor? I feel sorry for the ignorance of the masses who still vote for them.

The MQM Chief Altaf Hussain is another tragedy in our list of miseries. British Land Registry records revealed that the charismatic middle class leader of Pakistan’s third largest political party could not curb the temptation of acquiring a series of expensive and middle class properties in the British capital; one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Surely the most honest politician around is Imran Khan. However his life style speaks of aristocracy. His Bani Gala estate of 300 kanals and five marlas (gifted property) now has a worth of around 2 Billion Pakistani rupees. He also has a house located in Zaman Park Lahore declared as inherited property. His 1585-square feet Clara Apartment (No. 8-B-11, Ramna-4, Diplomatic Enclave, G-5, Islamabad) carries a price tag of Rs1,175,000. He also has a 10-marla house in Mianwali. Poor fellow!

What is it that is stopping our people to adopt a simpler peaceful life? Why the lust to amass more wealth is not decreasing. Why do we need to display our monetary superiority to look down upon other people? We as a nation are living in a perpetual state of mental slavery. As the great Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus once said “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”

n    The writer is a PhD in Information Technology, alumni of King’s College London and a social activist. He has authored two books titled Understanding Telecommunications and Living in the Grave and several research papers.The writer prefers to avoid human interaction and finds peace & happiness being alone, in silence with his own self.