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Saudis involved in Hajj scam, SC told

25 October, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday Saudi nationals were also involved in the 2010 Hajj corruption scandal, therefore, the Saudi government was not willing to help in the investigation of the case.

A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Jawwad S Khawaja was hearing a suo motu case of corruption during the performance Haj in 2010.

The court was also informed the Saudi government was not cooperating in the investigation of the scandal as it had refused to hand over a proclaimed offender, Ahmad Faiz, who is residing in Saudi Arabia.

Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) investigating officer Hussain Asghar submitting progress report on the scandal said when they contacted Saudi officials regarding the matter, they said Hajj was the biggest source of earning for the Saudi people. "We did not get permission to investigate Saudi people," the FIA official said. He said the Saudi officials were also not handing over Ahmed Faiz to Pakistani authorities for investigation.

He also said the majority of people involved in corruption were Saudis and Ahmed Faiz was working as a middleman and established contacts with Saudi people to loot Pakistani pilgrims. Asghar said Faiz was the only person who knew about the exact amount of the 2010 Hajj corruption.

"Has this evil of corruption reached Saudi Arabia as well," the chief justice asked him. The CJP also said that pilgrims were looted during the performance of Hajj, which is a very serious crime. He also said if the Saudi people could not be brought to Pakistan, at least the FIA could probe Pakistani officials involved in the corruption. He told the FIA official a parliamentary delegation led by Khalid Soomro had visited Saudi Arabia to investigate the case and the FIA could take help from its findings.

Meanwhile, the court has directed principal secretary to the PM, secretaries of the Establishment Division and Ministry of Religious Affairs to cooperate with the FIA regarding investigation into the appointment of Rao Shakeel as Hajj director general.

The court also ordered the vice chancellor of Bahauddin Zakariya University to provide details about the degree of another accused in the scandal, Zain Sukhera, to the Federal Investigation Agency, while the FIA director general has been directed to make serious efforts for the arrest of Ahmed Faiz.

Earlier, Hussain Asghar informed the court that Prime Minister's Secretariat, Establishment Division and Ministry of Religious Affairs were not cooperating with the agency regarding appointment of former director general of Hajj, Rao Shakeel. "We wrote letters and also sent reminders thrice," he added. He said they have submitted challans of Hamid Saeed, Rao Shakeel and Zain Sukhera in the court and are also making efforts for the arrest of Ahmed Faiz and in this regard have contacted the Saudi intelligence. He said that they were in contact with two brothers of Ahmed Faiz, but he was hiding along with his family.

Hussain Asghar said that Ahmed Faiz was the focal person, as he has information about the looted money. He also told the bench that Zain Sukhera, who first worked in the Prime Minister's Secretariat and later in the IT Ministry as consultant, was involved in the appointment of Rao Shakeel as Hajj director general. He said that Bahauddin Zakariya University was not providing the details of fake degree of Zain Sukhera.

Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said if any institution was not cooperating with them for investigation in the Hajj scandal, they could proceed against them as well. Hussain Asghar said that in this regard they have decided to issue notices to the University officials. The hearing of the case was adjourned for two weeks.

End.

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