LONDON: Britain’s most senior Muslim politician and labour peer lord Nazir Ahmed has strongly denied putting “bounty” on Barack Obama or anyone else, clarifying that his position on the arrest and prosecution of those involved in “war crimes” is well known.
Speaking to this correspondent at the Heathrow Airport after cutting short his Pakistan trip after the controversy emerged that he had announced a bounty of GBP10 million on President Obama and his predecessor George Bush against a reward of 10 million dollars for the captor of Hafiz Saeed, Lord Ahmed said he had called for the arrest and prosecution of George W Bush and Tony Blair and others “responsible” for war crimes in Muslim countries, for their involvement in illegal warns.
“I didn’t mention bounty at all. It’s a fabrication by the BBC and other sections of the media. My positing on the shedding of blood, whether of Muslims or non-Muslims, is well-know and I have always maintained it.
He said it was important to uphold the international law if the International criminal court wants to be taken seriously and credible. “If the African and Asian leaders can be prosecuted then the western leaders involved in killing and law breaking in Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza must also be held accountable. The criminals should be brought to justice at any cost and if it involves raising money on my part to uphold international law, I am prepared to do it.
Suspending Lord Nazir’s Labour party membership on Sunday night, a Labour Party spokesman said: "We have suspended Lord Ahmed pending investigation. If these comments are accurate we utterly condemn these remarks which are totally unacceptable."
“I respect Labour Party and its rules and its leadership and I will answer their questions. I condemn terrorists first before criticising those Western leaders who have killed innocent people through their illegal acts. I am a member of the Labour Party and I remain in it. This party is my home and I will continue to campaign for Labour values,” Lord Ahmed, who was born in Azad Kashmir, said.
On Lashakar-e-Tayyaba, which is blamed by India for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 166 people were killed, chief Hafiz Saeed Ahmed and the bounty on his head placed by America, Lord Ahmed said Hafiz Saeed him has been cleared by Pakistan’s independent courts as no evidence has been found against him.
“America should respect decisions of Pakistan’s independent judiciary and stop alienating millions of its citizens by putting bounties on people it doesn’t like. This is creating anti-Americanism and serves no purpose for the image of America in the Muslim world.”
Lord Nazir, a hugely popular and most accessible politician in British Muslim community who was made a life peer in 1998, is no stranger to expressing his opinion on controversial issues and speaking up his mind. He became the first and most senior Muslim politician to revolt against his own party when Prime Minister Tony Blair decided to join America in war on Iraq and later in Afghanistan. When many Labour Muslim leaders were silent, Lord Ahmed went out in the community and rallied them against the war. He openly criticised the government’s decision to give knighthood to the Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie. He shot to controversy again when he criticised Geert Wilders, the Dutch right-wing anti-Islam politician and leader of the Party for Freedom.
Lord Ahmed held that Mr Wilders, who had been invited to show a film in the House of Lords linking the holy book of Quran to terrorism, incited racial hatred and threatened civic relations.