LAHORE: Terming the petition seeking details of Pakistani victims of the Hajj stampede a bid to “strain Pakistan-Saudi Arabia ties”, the religious affairs ministry seeks disposal of the plea.
Muhammad Kashif Bara, section officer at the Ministry of Religious Affairs & Interfaith Harmony, told the Lahore High Court (LHC) in a written response on Tuesday that the international media’s claim that 236 Pakistanis had died in Mina last month was inaccurate.
While Bara agreed with petitioner Arif Idrees’s plea that the ministry is required to provide information to the public on the incident, he said it implied accurate information.
The officer asked the court to dispose of the petition and reprimand the petitioner for trying to “strain the sensitive relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Government of Pakistan on such a tragedy for his personal publicity only”.
According to the ministry’s website, 87 Pakistanis have died in the tragedy while 47 were injured, of whom 40 have been discharged from hospitals. Bara said the entire administration of the Mashair is under the direct control of the Saudi government, to the extent that all countries are barred from even setting up their medical camps there.
He criticised the petitioner for believing that the responsibility for everything under the sun lay upon the religious affairs ministry and its officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2015.