Hajj marks for many Muslims, the peak of spiritual contact with the Almighty Allah throughout their lives. However, this year, a number of pilgrims who performed the religious ceremony found themselves victims to the inefficiency and corruption of the Pakistani government.
Not only did the government fail to provide adequate accommodation for several Pakistanis performing Hajj, many pilgrims have complained that the Pakistani accommodation camp in Saudi Arabia was distant from main landmarks, and that though the government was offered better opportunities, they did not make use of them. Most buildings for accommodation lie 5km away from Haram Sharif, even though the law states that they should not be more than 2km away. The government charged pilgrims the maximum amount chargeable for Hajj (3600 Riyal) whereas expenses could have been limited to 2500 Riyal only.
If this wasn’t enough trouble for the pilgrims at Saudi Arabia this year, the fact that 9 Pakistanis have died at Hajj this year comes as a daunting fact and a huge concern for the future. The Ministry of Health claims that the Pakistan Medical Aid Commission at Hajj was not allowed to provide aid, though this seems a fib. It only further proves the lack of government involvement and concern about the pilgrims at Hajj. DG Hajj Rao Shakeel has also been arrested over claims of corruption, for millions of rupees laundered while purchasing buildings for Pakistani pilgrims.
Such incidents further taint Pakistan’s reputation in the Muslim world, and are a stain on Pakistan’s recognition amongst Muslim countries as a catalyst for peace and progress. The times where Pakistan hosted the 1974 OIC conference between Islamic countries, or the era where we fought for the rights of the Muslim Khalifa from 1919-1922 seem distant memories, as the era of Talibanisation and terrorism engulfs Pakistan.
We can only hope and pray that the government in future handles problems regarding Hajj with utmost concern and regard for those who spend their savings largely to enjoy visiting the Home of Allah. It is this that will make Eid for all Pakistanis more festive, enjoyable and memorable in it’s true essence.