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LAHORE: The Ministry of Religious Affairs on Tuesday told the Lahore High Court it never sought advice from the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on the issue of a mehram, but a standing committee meeting decided to follow the council’s 2013 decision allowing women pilgrims to perform Hajj only with a mehram.

A report submitted by a deputy attorney general on behalf of the ministry further stated that the decision of the CII was not mentioned in the Haj policy. Director Hajj Malik Saeed was also present in the court during hearing of the petition questioning discriminatory treatment with Shia pilgrims, especially women, for Haj.

Representing the petitioner, Barrister Maqsooma Zahra Bokhari argued that the role of the CII was advisory in nature and its recommendations could not be implemented unless they became law. She questioned as to why the decision of the council was not followed before 2016. The counsel pointed out CII members from the Fiqh-i-Jafria had dissented from the majority on the decision.

Justice Ayesha A Malik asked the law officer to disclose name of the official who implemented this decision and how it was justified legally and constitutionally.

She further asked what the decision making process was and why such a decision was followed and on whose instructions. The hearing was adjourned till Aug 1.

The petitioner had stated that Shia pilgrims continued to face discriminatory treatment at the hands of the ministry on account of facilities. He said Shia women were being discouraged from applying for Haj without a mehram. He asked the court to direct the ministry to provide facilities to Shia pilgrims as per their sect, as the ministry had undertaken so before the court.

REPORT SOUGHT: The district and sessions judge sought on Tuesday a report from the station house officer (SHO) of Defence-A police about the confiscation of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf’s property as ordered by a special court hearing treason case him.

A three-judge special court at Islamabad had ordered the authorities to freeze bank accounts and confiscate property of the former president after he failed to appear before the court despite repeated notices.

District and Sessions Court Judge Nazir Ahmad Gajana directed the SHO to appear in person on Wednesday (today) along with his report as the judge received a copy of the special court’s order for its implementation.

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2016