Corruption over Pakistan Haj pilgrims: Saudi prince

November 3rd, 2010 - 3:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry By Awais Saleem
Islamabad, Nov 3 (IANS) A Saudi prince has told the Supreme Court here that Pakistan’s ministry of religious affairs is indulging in corruption while dealing with Haj pilgrims, media reports said Wednesday.

Saudi prince Bandar Bin Khalid Bin Abdul Aziz said in a letter to the court that the Pakistani ministry had rented out “expensive accommodations at far-off locations for pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj.

“We offered cheaper accommodation within two kilometers of the Haj congregation venue but (this was rejected).

“Our offer was 3,500 Saudi Riyals per pilgrim but the Pakistani authorities rented out the accommodation,” he said.

“The Pakistani pilgrims are still being charged 3,500-3,600 Saudi Riyals for this accommodation although the rent at such a far-off location is not more than 1,500 Riyals under any circumstance,” he stated.

Prince Khalid said in the letter that “there (is) concrete evidence of financial bungling and departmental corruption as far as the Haj affairs of Pakistani ministry are concerned”.

He urged the court to take note of the alarming situation.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has directed the secretary incharge of the ministry to furnish a detailed response on the accusations made in the letter within 15 days.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi told the National Assembly: “We have not received any such letter from the Saudi prince.

“I have seen such reports only in the media. I want to assure that we will hold a thorough probe and stringent action will be taken against officials if proven guilty.”

As many as 160,000 Pakistanis went to Saudi Arabia this year.

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