In a recommendation given by the Public Accounts Committee, it was suggested that government officers should not receive government expenses for performing Hajj. For plenty, it may sound like bad news but this move came about after reviewing the audit objections for the year 1998-1999 in respect of the ministry of information and broadcasting under the chairmanship of Syed Khurshid Shah. Another member of the PAC brought attention to the embezzlement of over Rs 140 million under former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf’s constituency NA-51. In 2010, corruption in Hajj arrangements led to chaos in accommodation and even basic facilities such as provision of food.

It is only fair that government officers arrange for their Hajj through their own expenses. Compared to civilian pilgrims who often hail from some of the most abjectly poor households and who need monetary help the most to perform this sacred pilgrimage, government officers have it exponentially better in terms of saving through their own means. Not only do they hoard over funds that can assist deserving civilians, they also take advantage of the network of connections they have established through their profession. Unless a government officer is earning far below than the norm, there is no valid point to take on the expenses of one employed by the State.

We already know how tumultuous the arrangement for Hajj can be if you’re from Pakistan. Pilgrims have, time and again, complained of the abandonment they witnessed at the hands of their appointed guardians in Saudi. Similarly, finances magically disappear when destitute pilgrims need them the most. The humiliation, fatigue and most importantly, the injustice of having little to no help from your local government is a dilemma Pakistani pilgrims understand too well. Our government officers should show some empathy for their civilian counterparts and chip in instead of snapping off.