Senate directs ministry to highlight MPs Hajj quota abolishment

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Islamabad—Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Tuesday appreciated the abolishment of parliamentarians quota in Government Hajj Scheme and directed the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) to highlight the quota abolishing decision in more effective way. Chairing the meeting, Hafiz Hamdullah said the ban on parliamentarians’ quota must continue, as parliamentarians cannot accommodate every approaching person.
Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousaf said the parliamentarians’ quota had been abolished in 2009 by the then cabinet. He said this year 280,000 applied for government scheme Hajj against the quota of only 71,000. As many as 210,000 people were failed to win berth in government scheme. It is impossible to adjust such a huge number of people in any quota.
He said the Ministry has also decreased hardship quota from five to three percent aiming to accommodate more hujjaj under the government scheme. The main aim of hardship quota was to accommodate broken families, labours and low income peoples.
Minister of State for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Amin-ul-Hasnat Shah said Hajj Group Organisers (HGOs) were earning billions sans any check. They often refuse to comply with the orders of the Ministry including the submission of minimum Hajj package. Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs Hafiz Hamdullah directed the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) to spend income generated from property of minority community to their welfare only.
He said the committee would hold a meeting in Lahore and visit sacred places for minorities. The committee recommended to give legal cover to Ruet-e-Hilal Committee. The draft law should be shared with the standing committee on religious affairs for fine tuning and further improvement before tabling in National Assembly for legislation.
The committee observed that many incumbent members of Ruet-e- Hilal Committee do not meet the criteria of an Alim. The Committee also recommended fixing tenure of chairman and criteria for appointment of the members of Ruet-e-Hilal Committee.
Briefing the committee Director General of the Ministry Noor Slam Shah said the Ministry had prepared a draft law regarding constitution of Ruet-e-Hilal committee in 2014. Law Ministry advised that the Ministry cannot constitute Ruet e Hilal committee on across country level after the enactment of 18th amendment. According to Law Ministry only remedy is that the Provincial Assemblies should pass a resolution in favour of constituting central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, before constituting the central Ruet- e-Hilal Committee.
Hafiz Hamdullah recommended to constitute a committee headed by Minister for Religious Affairs. The members are included State Minister for Religious Affairs, chairmen of standing committees of Senate and National Assembly and Secretary Religious Ministry. the committee should visit four provincial capitals and apprise the Chief Ministers to expedite presenting a resolution for constituting Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee.
Briefing the committee Chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Siddique-ul-Farooq said the income of ETPB has decreased by Rs 130 million due to decrease in interest rate. Siddique-ul-Farooq said Thar Development Authority should be constituted for resolving the issues of Thar population.
Femine was not the sole reason of killings of children in Thar. 300 additional residential rooms would be constructed in Nankana Sahib to provide accommodation facilities to visiting Yatrees.—APP

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