ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Religious Affairs Ministry to repay 7,000 riyals to each of the 25,000 pilgrims who had been victims of the Hajj scam. The court gave the ministry a deadline of one week.
A three member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heard the Hajj scam case on Thursday.
The court criticised DG Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Waseem Ahmed and said he was not taking interest in the case. It also ordered Ahmed to inform the court whether Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani’s son Abdul Qadir Gilani had gone to Saudi Arabia or not.
The Hajj case hearing has now been adjourned till January 11.
Speaking to the media outside the Supreme Court, former federal minister Azam Swati accused the federal government of being involved in corruption. “Prime Minister Gilani is the most corrupt man in Pakistan’s 63 year old histrory,” he said. He said he was ready to prove that Gilani appointed corrupt people in the ministry and other institutions involved in the Hajj arrangements.
Earlier last month, a two-member team, comprising Khalid Rasool and Mian Mohammad Sabir, which flew to Saudi Arabia to unearth evidence of irregularities in Hajj affairs, had learnt that learnt that the embezzled amount exceeded Rs200 million, far more than previous estimates of Rs120 million. After scrutinising accounts of tour operators, hotel owners and other officials of the Hajj mission officials, the FIA team concluded that the money had been illegally transferred.
The corruption and irregularities in the Hajj scam which had put an extra burden of Rs35,000 on each pilgrim this year and led to the sacking of former federal minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi and Azam Swati has sent ripple effects through the political landscape of the country ending up in the JUI-F quiting from the coalition.