Hajj corruption case: ‘Front man paid 2.7m riyals to hire buildings’

Former MNA says Pakistani pilgrims housed in unfinished buildings

Rizwan Shehzad March 08, 2016

ISLAMABAD: A former lawmaker on Monday told a court that Pakistani pilgrims were housed in under-construction buildings and that a front man was paid a commission of 2.7 million Saudi riyals to hire buildings for pilgrims during 2010 Hajj.

Bilal Yasin, a former MNA, testified before a special court of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the Hajj corruption case. Special Judge Central Malik Nazir Ahmed recorded the statement.

The former parliamentarian said a five-member committee consisting of parliamentarians had travelled to Saudi Arabia to investigate the issue and to compare expenses borne by Pakistani pilgrims to those by pilgrims from Iran.

The investigation, Yasin said, revealed that Pakistani pilgrims were housed in under construction buildings and that a front man, Ahmed Faiz, was paid a commission of 2.7 million Saudi riyals to acquire residential buildings for Pakistanis pilgrims.

FIA is also making arrangements for recording testimony of another key witness, Muhammad Farooq, through video link from Saudi Arabia.

Religious affairs minister in the PPP-led government Hamid Saeed Kazmi, former director-general Hajj affairs Rao Shakeel and former additional secretary in the Ministry of Religious Affairs Raja Aftabul Islam were accused of renting residential buildings for Pakistani pilgrims at exorbitant rates and thus inflicting loss to the national exchequer.

The case has been adjourned till March 14.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2016.


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