Pakistan and Hajj, KU under fire
Disgraceful it appears, and has been said so in the parliament too, but the government of an Islamic country, remains unmoved, has done nothing to provide relief to hajis, either in subsidised air fares to the Holy Land, or for their comfort in Saudi Arabia.
A Hindu State, India, orders its national airline to charge subsidised fare from Hajis. In fact the fare from Indian cities to Jeddah, and back, is around 26,000 Indian rupees, which if converted into Pakistan currency would mean Rs 55,000 or perhaps a little more. But that is besides the point. It is intention and the political will of a government that is more meaningful. Muslims are a minority in India, and yet the Indian government facilitates it during Hajj, reduced air fare, much more comfortable living during religious rites are what the Indian officials do for their nationals in Hajj.
Compared to that ordinary Pakistani Hajis are charged huge amounts for perform one of the basic fundamentals of their noble religion, Islam. They have to pay more, something around Rs 300,000 rupees. Media reports suggest that those already in Saudia, are facing residential problems, some of them were shown on TV spending nights under open skies, without any roof over their heads.
Neither the President, nor the prime minister, nor the religious and hajj affairs minister Khurshid Shah, seem worried over their plight. They are busy having lavish dinners and parties in Pakistan—at the Presidency and in the Prime Minister”s house.
The Pakistan government must immediately review its hajj poklicy, and subsidise by atleast by 50 percent the charges being paid by the hajis for the pilgrimage. Secondly, already a scandalous hajj operation is in court these days, and the the then hajj Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi is in jail. It is reported that the son and wife of a high level disnatory were involved in the scandal. The then additional secretary Hajj ministry has been arrested after the media raised a hue and cry over the treatment meted out to Hajis in Saudi Arabia last year.
Yet no lessons seem to have been learnt. The speaker of the national assembly Fehmida Mirza too raised her voice in favour of the pilgrims, asking the government to subsidise air fares to and from the Kingdom to Pakistani cities. Already hajj operations has shown enough weaknesses like PIA’s incompetence or the ineptness shown by the Pakistani Hajj Directorate officials in Jeddah, and other places. . Hajj flight centres have been reduced to federal and provincial capitals.The arrangements in Saudi Arabia for the comfort of the Pakistani pilgrims need to be taken care good care of. But Alas we have incompetence at its height. It is time the government in Pakistan try to raise its image be taking some concrete measures for the Hajis and earn God Almighty’s blessings. Turning a deaf ear to public aspirations need to be shed, once and for all.
The second topic under discussion in private parties, friends gatherings is the role required to be played by Karachi University (KU), as a prestigious institution of learning. Many have criticised KU for confering an honorary doctorate degree on Rehman Malik, the person who hardly deserved such high honour. And then Governor Ishratul Ebad, having built envious reputation over the years for good governance, should have refrained himself from being at the ceremony. That he himself awarded the degree to Rehman Malik as chancellor of the alma mater, has raised eye-brows in the public.
Conferment of doctorate degree, even honorary, is something very special, given to eminent personalities for having contributed something extremely significant to nation-building or atleats upgrading its level of reputation. What Rehman Malik has done and with him Babar Awan, the two men criticised for their activities, and looked down upon by the general public, intellegentsia etc, to help the country grow. Their character and public image is open to question. In fact sometime they evoke very adverse public reactions
In all fairness, the Karachi University which we are all very proud of, should immediately reverse its decision, and whether the university syndicate approved it, should also be examined by a commission of judges or parliamentarians. Teachers at the alma mater are protesting the University decision. Their voice need to be heard for its national honour which is at stake now.