Editorial : Haj scam`s extent - Friday, March 18, 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/18/haj-scams-extent.html

AS the saga behind the 2010 Haj scam continues to unfold, it is becoming apparent that we know very little about who exactly was involved in the affair and what the true extent of the alleged corruption was. There was public uproar when it became clear that the state`s Haj arrangements last year were less than ideal. After the scam claimed the scalp of former religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi, who was given in FIA custody on Wednesday, it has emerged that Minister of State for Religious Affairs Shagufta Jumani may have also been involved in Haj-related corruption. The Supreme Court was told on Wednesday that Ms Jumani, along with other `important personalities`, may have benefited from the scandal. According to the FIA, a Pakistani living in Madina has alleged that questionable payments were made to the state minister, who denies any wrongdoing. Also, a report in this paper quotes FIA sources as saying that under Mr Kazmi`s watch, the government suffered a loss of Rs200m due to the selection of substandard residence facilities for pilgrims.
Aside from Hamid Kazmi and now Shagufta Jumani, it needs to be made clear which other `important personalities` may have been involved in the mismanagement of the pilgrimage. The former Haj director is said to be involved while fingers have also been pointed at an associate of the prime minister`s son. The facts about the Haj scam need to be made clear and the SC has done well to pursue the case. The court has asked the FIA to speed up investigations while it has also rightly called for all those who performed Haj at state expense to pay for the pilgrimage out of their own pockets. Those in power need to learn from the mistakes of the past and must ensure that pilgrims are not put through the same torturous routine during this year`s Haj. Also, the fact that such corruption was committed during one of the Islamic faith`s most sacred rites by those tasked with looking after the pilgrims` welfare is a stark reflection of the hypocrisy that prevails in Pakistani society.

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