A probe has been launched against the joint secretary of religious affairs ministry Aftab Islam over a Haj residence scam.
The bureaucrat is accused of renting buildings still under construction for around Rs260 million.
A three-member committee, formed on the directives of the prime minister, has launched an inquiry into the rates and reason for renting these buildings for pilgrims.
Earlier, the ministry had denied allegations of financial irregularities in the government’s Haj scheme.
Pilgrims who have gone for Haj through the government scheme are facing immense problems because of a shortage of accommodation.
Most of the buildings requisitioned by Haj administrators are five kilometres away from the Haram Sharif. However, according to the laws, accommodation cannot be more than two kilometres away.
Most of the pilgrims are living on footpaths and roads because of the Haj officials’ negligence.
The ministry asserted that buildings have been rented because nearby apartments were inhabitable.
Earlier this month, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, in a letter, accused the minister for religious affairs of embezzlement and urged the apex court to take action on the issue.
(Additional input from AGENCIES)
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2010.