Pakistani Citizens Sues Islamabad over Negligence on Hajj Deaths
Mahmoud Akhtar Naghavi has sued 14 senior Pakistani officials, including prime minister and religious affairs minister, for not providing accurate information on the number of the Pakistanis killed in Mina, the Urdu-language Express newspaper reported on Monday.
“The (Pakistani) government is duty-bound to publish a list of the names and the real number of the victims and the missing Hajj pilgrims in order to remove concerns among the families of the pilgrims,” the daily quoted Naghavi as saying.
Islamabad’s leniency towards Saudi Arabia over the Mina crush has angered the Pakistani people.
Pakistan is among those nations who have lost the largest number of nationals in the Thursday stampede.
Reports from Pakistani media and journalists on Monday revealed that the country’s intelligence body, ISI, has issued serious warnings to all the country’s media outlets to avoid conducting interviews with pilgrims and their families about the lethal incidents in Mecca this year or releasing figures of those who have lost their lives or gone missing in the stampede.
In relevant remarks earlier today, a senior Pakistani religious leader called on Islamabad to declare the real number of the Hajj pilgrims killed during the Hajj stampede in Mina.
“The secrecy concerning the real number of victims of Mina incident not only does not solve anything, but is also make the situation more complicated; therefore the Pakistani government should announce the exact number of Pakistani pilgrims killed in Hajj rituals in Mina,” Sahibzada Abu-al-Khair Muhammad Zubair, President of Pakistan’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), told FNA.
Muhammad Zubair voiced regret over the prevailing situation in Mecca, and said, “This is very regretting that the Hajj pilgrims lost their lives for the presence of a Saudi royal family member; if this is true. The Saudi royal family is assassin of the Hajj pilgrims.”
He called on the Muslim countries to take charge of the management of Hajj rituals by forming a joint commission because irresponsibility of the Saudi rulers in this regard is evident to everyone.
“The Saudi government is engaged in wars in Yemen, Syria and Iraq and for the same reason it does not pay attention to Hajj affairs,” Muhammad Zubair added.
A stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season killed more than 2,000 people and left 2,000 wounded.
The stampede occurred during the ritual known as “stoning the devil” in the tent city of Mina, about two miles from Mecca.
Meantime, sources revealed that the convoy of Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud caused panic among millions of pilgrims and started the stampede.
“The large convoy of Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the King’s son and deputy crown prince, that was escorted by over 3,50 security forces, including 200 army men and 150 policemen, sped up the road to go through the pilgrims that were moving towards the site of the ‘Stoning the Devil’ ritual, causing panic among millions of pilgrims who were on the move from the opposite direction and caused the stampede,” several Arab papers, including the Arabic language al-Dyar newspaper, disclosed on Thursday evening.
“That’s why the ruler of Mecca has distanced himself from the case, stressing that the issue should be studied and decided by the King,” it added.
Eye witnesses said earlier that the Saudi police and security forces had closed two of the few roads to the stone column that were to be used by millions of pilgrims to do the ‘Stoning the Devil’ ritual today.
Saeed Ohadi, the head of Iran’s Hajj organization, accused Saudi Arabia of safety errors and mismanagement.
He said for “unknown reasons” the paths had been closed off near the scene of the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual where the accident later took place.
“This caused this tragic incident,” he told the Iranian state television.
Eyewitness accounts said that even after incident the Saudi security and military forces closed all paths leading to the scene and the bodies of pilgrims have piled up on each other.