Pakistan Hajj Scam

Pakistan Hajj Scam

Islamabad : Pakistan | Nov 22, 2010 at 11:54 PM PST
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Financial irregularities in government Hajj Scheme

BY: Shaukat Masood Zafar

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Pakistan Hajj Scam

Corruption even in the Religious Affair’s ministry! God forgive us. Rs. 25000/- per Haji only from tour operators in addition to getting vast commissions and kickbacks in hiring buildings in Mecca and Medina, hiring transport and so on; corruption and irregularities of the Governmental Authorities are getting worst day by day. This episode of highest corruption even in Hajj operations shows what reality is and where corruption stands and it has surely brought bad name to the country. Just a Shame on how low these corrupt people can get. Corruption has creep into our society like cancer which has damaged its social fabric and ruined the moral, cultural as well as the religious values. “Every body has a right to corruption” is a quotation from a federal minister of present regime, which is possible only in Pakistan. So nothing seems to surprise us nowadays.

It was a grave injustice to the pilgrims, who were put to the miseries owing to the corruption. They have absolutely forgotten in our religion we have to pay for our deeds. The religious affairs division has failed to provide even basic facilities to Pakistanis performing Haj under the government scheme. Problems faced by the Pakistani pilgrims have badly tarnished the image of Pakistan. It is a matter of shame for our nation that Prince Khalid Bin Bandar, in his letter addressed to the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan, directly pointed the minister for Religious Affairs of embezzlement in rented residences for pilgrims for up to 3,600 riyals while the prices were actually around 1,500 riyals. He also offered to provide cheaper accommodation closer to the Kaaba but his offer was turned down. The Ministry of Religious Affairs, instead of mending its ways, termed the letter as fake, which has now been confirmed by the Price himself.

In addition to Rs.25000/- per Haji received from the tour operators the pilgrims performing Haj under the government scheme were overcharged on hiring residential accommodations and this was amounting to embezzlement of billions of rupees. On these allegations the DG Hajj was recalled back, but he was neither suspended nor was a probe conducted to ascertain the allegations. Later, on high pressure of the people the FIA arrested the DG on corruption charges relating to the above. Transportation of Pakistani pilgrims from buildings located far away from the mosque remained a major issue. Pilgrims wanting to offer the five prayers in the main mosque and those living in such buildings had to pay up to 30 riyals per head as taxi fare.

The pilgrims are now returning back with bitter tales of the substandard facilities they were provided by the Government, despite having paid Rs.2,38,000 per head for the Pakistan government package and up to double of that for a private package, an amount that represents lifetime planning and saving of the poor people who worked very hard for years to save money for this sacred mission. The housing provided to pilgrims lacked basic facilities such as running water, proper sanitation and electricity; in some cases the buildings were still under construction. The pilgrims faced a lot of trouble due to hiring of an unknown private transport company instead of hiring the official transport company of Saudi Arabia. Thousands of Pakistani pilgrims were left stranded in Mina without air-conditioned tents, water, toilets or food. Left with the prospect of sleeping on pavements, hundreds protested on the roads. The Pakistani pilgrims could not get transport and tents in Mina due to the corruption ridden poor arrangements.

Supreme Court of Pakistan has already taken a suo motu action on the basis of letter from Saudi Prince about alleged anomalies committed in hiring residential buildings for pilgrims and the people of Pakistan are left with one hope that the Judiciary could help the country to come out from the dark prospects of chaos and confusion that has terribly overwhelmed the nation. We must also see the things with vision and identity and elect the candidates with open eyes and finding out the responsible persons as our representatives instead of electing the same corrupt personalities again and again.

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Muslim pilgrims wait to move from Mecca to Mina
Muslim pilgrims wait to move from Mecca to Mina
Shaukat Masood Zafar is based in Islamabad, Federal Capital Area, Pakistan, and is a Reporter on Allvoices.
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