ISLAMABAD: A majority of pilgrims who went to perform Hajj under the government scheme have mocked the tall claims made by the government about providing “maximum amount of facilities to them”.
While announcing the Hajj Policy 2017, the government had promised the best possible arrangements for pilgrims this year like express clearance services at Jeddah and Madina airports; modern transport; 100% accommodation in Madina; cooked meals three times a day; filtered water and effective cooling systems in each maktab at Mina; fireproof tents; separate washrooms, etc.
This year the Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims was divided into a 60/40 ratio between the government and Private Hajj Group Organisers (HGOs).
However, with the exception of a few, the pilgrims have expressed their disappointment over the arrangements made by the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Saudi Arabia.
They took to social media website Facebook and sharing application Whatsapp to register their complaints. Most of them faced problems like inadequate transport facility, delivery of food and regulation of its quality at Mina.
Some posted videos and pictures to highlight their plight like overcrowding at camps that forced them to spend time under the scorching sun and take refuge on footpaths at nights. Elderly suffered a lot due to the absence of tents at Mina.
Ayan Shaikh, who went to perform Hajj under the government scheme commented, “Agree, miserable conditions, no food, no water.”
Abuzer Khan commented, “Worst arrangements from government during 5 days of hajj. No transportation no one was there to inform, no volunteer in Arafat…”
Hammad Hasan commented, “I need to raise the complaints on behalf of pakistani Hajis here in Mina. I have visited the camp 12/520 and very disappointed to see the vulnerable situation of Hajis as they have not been provided transportation services to bring them from Azizia to Mina tents.
“They have come to Mina on their own. Nobody there to guide them, no Moallim, no volunteers to guide them. Tomorrow they have to go to Arafat and yet they dont know if they will be provided any transportation? Lunch was also served today. its been really poor services by Pakistan Hajj Commission.”
Rehan Zubair Khalid said, “Poor facilities in maktib 94 under govt. Hajj scheme.”
Arshad Khan Iqbal commented, “Terrible stay in mina congested and hot in camp maktab 88.”
While those who went to the holy land under the private scheme showed complete satisfaction over the arrangements.
However, officials at the religious affairs ministry shifted all the blame on Saudi Arabia, saying the complaints pertained to only the affairs managed by the Saudi authorities.
“There is no complaint from the pilgrims against us as the complaints pertain to transport facilities, delivery of food and regulation of its quality in the Mashair area, including Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah. The Saudi authorities are responsible for these affairs,” they said.
They also claimed that the private Hajj operators were involved in defaming the Pakistani government by posting negative comments on the official Facebook page. “They want to pressurise the government into increasing the Hajj quota allotted to them.”
Meanwhile, preparations for the return journey of 179,210 pilgrims from Saudi Arabia will commence from Wednesday (September 6), and continue till September 22, the Ministry of Religious Affairs announced on Monday.
8 flights carrying Pakistani pilgrims will land at Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad, Faisalabad and Multan airports on Wednesday, according to the flight schedule issued by the religious affairs ministry. Total number of Pakistanis returning home from Hajj is 47,177.