KARACHI: After being released on bail a week ago, the former religious affairs minister, Hamid Saeed Kazmi, who was allegedly involved in the Hajj corruption scam, came before the media on Sunday to restore his image.
Although Kazmi has yet to be absolved from his indictment in the corruption case, he called a press conference at Qasr-e-Naz, a government lodge which is meant for federal officials.
“The picture painted [of Kazmi’s involvement] by the media without a shred of proof was abhorrent, and so now call upon them to help me prove my innocence,” said the former minister. He was flanked by the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Chairperson Mufti Muneebur-Rehman, Nizam-e-Mustafa Chief Haji Hanif Tayyab and a number of his devotees who were chanting slogans of his innocence.
“To be vindicated in the eyes of the public is more important than to get acquittal from the court of justice,” said Kazmi, while adding that no proof had been produced against him to substantiate the allegations. According to him, the Federal Investigation Agency failed in finding any evidence or witnesses against him. “For me, it is imperative to reach out to the public in order to save the good name of my father as I’m not an industrialist or a qualified politician.”
Kazmi, along with two others, was accused of corruption during the course of renting residential buildings for Pakistani pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and inflicting a loss of a billion rupees to the national exchequer. A case was registered against him and he was arrested on March 15, 2011. A Rawalpindi court granted him bail on August 27.
The apex court took suo motu notice of the Hajj case only because three factors made it a public controversy, pointed out Kazmi. These included a letter by the Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud disclosing financial irregularities in Hajj arrangements, statement made by former science and technology minister, Azam Sawati, and the statement issued by Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Umar Khan Ali Sherzai.
“The Saudi prince had respectfully addressed me in his letter and the chief justice was only sent a copy of it,” claimed Kazmi. “I have filed a case against Azam Swati seeking damages from him,” said Kazmi, adding that Sawati’s name was not included in the witness list but his statement was one of the reasons behind the suo motu. He didn’t criticise the court’s suo motu outright but pointed out that the court should differentiate between its rights and obligations.” Following a murder attempt on his life on September 2, 2009, Kazmi claimed that the IG Islamabad at that time had warned him that he was “sitting on top of a cache of explosives.”
“He was referring to the monopoly enjoyed by specific schools of thought at various cadres of the ministry,” said Kazmi. “A number of people were eyeing the ministry, but when I was chosen they tried to ruin my reputation.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2012.
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