ABBOTTABAD, June 15: District Nazim of Abbottabad has severely censured Pakistani tour operators for Haj and Umrah arrangements in Saudi Arabia.

This was stated in a communiqué sent by district Nazim Sardar Haider Zaman to the Federal Ministry of Religious Affairs here on Friday. Terming the behaviour of Pakistani travel agents absolutely shocking, district Nazim Sardar Haider Zaman said that they did not differentiate between pilgrims and Namahrams and forced them to share rooms which, he argued, was against the Shariah.

On his return after performing Umrah, Sardar Haider Zaman said that tour operators were fleecing the pilgrims without any shame and helpless pilgrims did not know how to get rid of their greedy tour managers.

He said that people faced a lot of problems in finding ordinary travelling, boarding and lodging arrangements, adding that the tour operators use different coercive tactics to extort more money out of their clients by retaining their passports or deliberately delaying their trip between Makkah and Madina.

Highlighting the pilgrims’ despair, the district Nazim’s urged the ministry to force the tour operators to follow Islamic teachings.

Stressing the need for streamlining Haj and Umrah operations, he said that arrangements should be made to help such desperate Pakistani pilgrims free themselves from the clutches of the so-called travel agents.

In another letter sent to the Ministry of Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis, the district nazim berated Kafeels for what he termed their inhuman behaviour with Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia.

He said that a major share of the income of Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia was usurped by their kafeels, who made no investment and provided no service or facility.

He said that the trend was practically extortion and bonded-labour and more harmful than human trafficking, adding that such behaviour violated international labour and business laws.

Sardar Haider Zaman urged the authorities concerned to take immediate measures for improving the situation of Pakistani labourers and business community in Saudi Arabia.

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