Shocking Hajj Scandal—Pilgrims Scammed out of Thousands

Shocking Hajj Scandal—Pilgrims Scammed out of Thousands

Islamabad : Pakistan | Dec 03, 2010 at 1:07 AM PST
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ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN—The Supreme Court is taking suo moto notice of corruption in Hajj arrangements this year. A fraudulent charge of 35,000 Pakistani Rupees(PKR) was added to the Hajj fees of pilgrims this year which remains unaccounted for.

The hearing, which will begin this coming Monday will consist of a five-member bench.

Notices have been issued to Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Azam Khan Swati, Chairman NAB Deedar Hussain Shah, Secretary Religious Affairs Agha Sarwar Raza Qazilbash, former Director General (DG) Haj, Rao Shakeel and Secretary Establishment Division Khushnood Akhtar Lashari.

In an earlier meeting with the Deputy Minister Hatim Hassan Qazi, Kazmi promised that the any participants of the scam within the ministry would be caught and brought to justice.

The Pakistani government is also preparing to send a team from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to Saudia Arabia to find the answers.

A team would also visit the office of Saudi Hajj Minister Dr. Abdul Salam Al Farooqui to brief him about the development of the case.

“Yes, the FIA’s team headed by Mr. Ghalib will convene crucial meetings with the Saudi Hajj ministry’s officials to deconstruct the scam into Hajj affairs which stirred a furor among pilgrims,” said FIA Director General Waseem Ahmad.

“The Hajj scam revolves around all the ‘black fish’ involved in corruption — whether it’s on part of the administration or anybody else – that compounded the miseries of pilgrims in Saudi Arabia,” said Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Malik added that the FIA team would also be responsible for questioning the parties responsible for the irregularities regarding the extra 35,000PKR charge.

Joint Secretary Raja Aftabul Islam who was responsible for accommodation arrangements for pilgrims and heads the committee for pilgrim arrangements was also asked to cooperate with the FIA in their investigation.

Under the new Hajj policy, the government opted to provide better accommodation to the pilgrims which would place them on the outskirts of the main mosques they would be required to visit during the Hajj (such as the Masjid-al-Haram in Mecca and the Masjid-an-Nabwee in Madina. However, in an embarrassing fiasco of mismanagement, some 70,000 pilgrims were forced to stay as far as four to nine kilometers from their destinations.

As a compensation to outraged pilgrims in Makkah and Madina last week, Kazmi agreed to pay 5,600PKR to 25,000PKR to the pilgrims as compensation.

RebeccaK is based in New York City, New York, United States of America, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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