Haj scam: Pak court issues arrest warrant against former minister

Hamid Saeed Kazmi allegedly received kickbacks and commissions for the hiring of accommodation in Saudi Arabia.

Last Updated: Feb 10, 2011, 16:03 PM IST

Islamabad: A Pakistani court on Thursday issued a warrant for the arrest of a former federal minister from the ruling Pakistan People`s Party for his alleged involvement in a corruption scam linked to the Haj pilgrimage.

The arrest warrant for Hamid Saeed Kazmi was issued by a judicial magistrate`s court in Islamabad following a request by the Federal Investigation Agency.

The FIA had launched raids to trace Kazmi after getting the warrant, officials told the Supreme Court.

An eight-judge bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is hearing a suo moto case regarding the corruption in hiring accommodation for Pakistani pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.

Investigators told the Supreme Court during a hearing today that had found Kazmi`s alleged involvement in the scam. The former religious affairs minister had received kickbacks and commissions for the hiring of accommodation in Saudi Arabia, they told the court.

Kazmi was sacked by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani last year after media reports alleged he had received kickbacks.

The government has already arrested several people, including a top official, in connection with the scandal. Thousands of Pakistani pilgrims had complained that they were not provided proper accommodation during the pilgrimage in December despite paying large sums of money.

In some instances, accommodation was located far away from the main site of pilgrimage.

Saudi authorities too uncovered corrupt practices in Pakistan`s Haj operation and reportedly sent a letter to the Pakistan government.

Saudi authorities have paid compensation to nearly 25,000 Pakistani pilgrims.

The Supreme Court had taken suo moto notice of the scam and started an investigation.