ISLAMABAD: Former federal minister for religious affairs, Hamid Saeed Kazmi, was sentenced to 16 years in jail in the Haj corruption case on Friday.

Judge Malik Nazir Ahmad from special court central, a lower court, also sentenced Director General (DG) Haj Rao Shakeel to 40 years in prison. Joint secretary for religious affairs Aftab Aslam was also sentenced to 16 years.

Former federal minister for religious affairs, Hamid Saeed Kazmi. ─ Courtesy na.gov.pk
Former federal minister for religious affairs, Hamid Saeed Kazmi. ─ Courtesy na.gov.pk

Kazmi and Aftab were arrested from the court premises after the sentence was pronounced and escorted to Adiala Jail by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials. Shakeel is already in custody of the National Accountability Bureau in Lahore.

The verdict was announced Friday after cross-examination of 60 witnesses presented by the prosecution was concluded last week.

The sentenced have the right to appeal the decision in Islamabad High Court.

The investigation team was led by former FIA director and current Additional Inspector General Punjab Hussain Asghar. The final challan was filed in 2012 by Ghazanfar Abbas, an FIA investigation officer.

Between 2010 and 2012, the Haj corruption scandal rocked the national political scene and led to the departure of both Hamid Saeed Kazmi and Azam Swati from the federal cabinet.

The former also spent nearly two years in prison over charges of irregularities in the 2009 Haj operation.

The former religious affair minister was slapped with allegations of involvement in the Haj corruption scandal and inflicting huge losses to the national coffers two years ago. After which a case was registered leading to Kazmi’s arrest on March 15, 2011.

Kazmi was subsequently indicted on charges of corruption in the case on May 30, 2012, to which he pleaded not guilty.

According to the charge sheet issued to Kazmi, DG Haj Rao Shakeel and Raja Aftabul Islam, the men were indicted for fraud, cheating, misuse of authority, and causing losses to the national exchequer and the public at large.

Specifically, they were accused of hiring a substandard building on exorbitant rent (for housing the pilgrims in Makkah) and receiving kickbacks in the process.

Opinion

Editorial

New funds
27 Feb, 2024

New funds

PAKISTAN plans to seek a new loan of $6bn from the IMF under its Extended Fund Facility for a period of three years,...
Missing link
27 Feb, 2024

Missing link

WITH most of Punjab and KP now accessible via motorways, which have greatly eased road travel for the bulk of the...
Tragedy averted
Updated 27 Feb, 2024

Tragedy averted

Pakistan must shed the layers of intolerance that have been allowed to permeate society.
Spirit of ’74
26 Feb, 2024

Spirit of ’74

FOR three days in 1974, starting Feb 22, Lahore witnessed an epochal meeting of 38 Muslim nations as it hosted the...
Silence strategy
Updated 26 Feb, 2024

Silence strategy

Attempts at internet censorship only serve to tarnish Pakistan’s image globally and betray the democratic principles the country purports to uphold.
Nepra’s reluctance
26 Feb, 2024

Nepra’s reluctance

WHAT is the point in having a regulator that does not punish the entities it oversees for misconduct and...