In the latest hearing of the Hajj corruption case in the Supreme Court (SC), embarrassing details of more people being involved in this scam have emerged. Allegedly, Minister of State for Religious Affairs Shagufta Jumani also benefited from the scam. Meanwhile, the Federal Investigation Agency has been given the physical remand of Syed Hamid Saeed Kazmi, who was unceremoniously removed from the post of federal minister of religious affairs following the eruption of this scandal and suo motu notice of this case by the SC. In 2010, Hajj pilgrims had to face difficulties because proper arrangements had not made for their accommodation and transportation despite charging from them extra money. Recently, another aspect of this scandal has been highlighted by the letter of an official of the ministry of religious affairs to the interior ministry for the recovery of about 15 million rupees spent on the ‘free Hajj’ of about 450 politicians, journalists, etc, and their families, in 2009 and 2010.
These individuals were sent for ‘free Hajj’ on the recommendations of the interior ministry. It is questionable whether such a Hajj fulfilled the religious obligations because Hajj is mandatory only for those who can afford it from their own resources and are not in debt. It would be interesting to see what our religious scholars and courts have to say on the status of religious freebies on government expense, which are essentially paid for by the people. It is also very embarrassing that some senior journalists, who are supposed to be the watchdogs of state and society, have been named in this scandal. Further, what motives did the interior ministry have in sending these people on a ‘Rehmani Hajj’ — as it has come to be called — unless it had some axe to grind? Rehman Malik must be made answerable.This is not the first time that such a thing has happened. In past years too, public functionaries are known to have gone for Hajj along with an entourage of friends and families on state expense, but perhaps this is the first time that a large number of journalists have been named. It is imperative that the SC thoroughly investigate this aspect of the matter in the high level investigations it is holding into this scam and recover all the money that has been spent from the public exchequer for this purpose – Dailytimes