ISLAMABAD: The recent scandal of Mufti Qavi and Qandeel Baloch echoed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) when the defence counsel in the Haj corruption case asked the court for concession for the former religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi for being a religious scholar.
IHC Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi remarked that people were witnessing what religious scholars were up to nowadays.
Mr Kazmi who hails from Multan, became federal minister in the previous PPP government and has been convicted in the Haj corruption case.
IHC judge refuses to show leniency towards religious scholars
During the hearing of appeals filed by Kazmi and other accused persons including director general Haj Rao Shakeel and former joint secretary Ministry of Religious Affairs Abdul Islam Raja, Kazmi’s counsel Sardar Latif Khan Khosa requested the court to be lenient towards his client as he is a known religious scholar.
Though the IHC chief justice did not name Qandeel and Mufti Qavi, the defence counsel Advocate Khosa, who belongs to Balochistan, guessed whom he was referring to.
Mufti Qavi faced a lot of criticism after pictures and a video of him with social media personality Qandeel Baloch appeared on various social media sites. The incident made headlines and led to the suspension of Muft Qavi’s membership from the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee as well as from the National Ulema Mushaikh Council.
The counsel then clarified to the IHC chief justice, who comes from the same province, that Qandeel is not a Baloch and hails from elsewhere.
Media reports suggest that Qandeel belongs to Shah Sadruddin village in the Dera Ghazi Khan district of southern Punjab.
Before the IHC CJ, Advocate Khosa argued that Kazmi was not responsible for the appointment of Rao Shakeel as Director General Haj.
He said that the arrangement of temporary residences for pilgrims was also not minister for Haj’s responsibility and that the federal secretary of the ministry was to deal with these matters.
The court said the appeals will be decided judiciously and after hearing the argument of other parties in the matter. Since the prosecutor of the Federal Investigation Agency Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry was not available to argue the prosecution’s case, the matter was adjourned till June 29.
Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2016