Corruption and irregularities by the government authorities are becoming unbearable day by day. This episode of elephantine proportions even in Haj operations shows what the reality is and where corruption stands. It has surely brought a bad name to the country. Just a shame on how low these corrupt people can get. Corruption has crept into our society like a cancer which has damaged its social fabric and ruined the moral, cultural as well as the religious values. Everybody has a right to corruption is a quotation from a federal minister of present regime, which is possible only in Pakistan. So, nothing seems to surprise us nowadays. It was a grave injustice to the pilgrims, who were put to the miseries owing to corruption. Our rulers have absolutely forgotten that in our religion we have to pay for our deeds. The religious affairs division has failed to provide even basic facilities to Pakistanis performing Haj under the government scheme. Problems faced by the Pakistani pilgrims have badly tarnished the image of Pakistan. It is a matter of shame for our government that Prince Khalid Bin Bandar, in his letter addressed to the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan, directly pointed the minister for Religious Affairs for embezzlement in rented residences for pilgrims for up to 3,600 riyals while the prices were actually around 1,500 riyals. He also offered to provide cheaper accommodation closer to the holy site of Kaaba but his offer was turned down. The Ministry of Religious Affairs, instead of mending its ways, termed the letter as fake, which has now been confirmed by the Price himself. In addition to Rs.25000/- per Haji received from the tour operators, the pilgrims performing Haj under the government scheme were overcharged on hiring residential accommodations and this was amounting to embezzlement of billions of rupees. On these allegations, the DG Haj was recalled back, but he was neither suspended nor was a probe conducted to ascertain the allegations. Later, on high pressure of the people the FIA arrested the DG on corruption charges. Transportation of Pakistani pilgrims from buildings located far away from the mosque remained a major issue. Pilgrims wanting to offer the five prayers in the main mosque and those living in such buildings had to pay up to 30 riyals per head as taxi fare. The pilgrims are now returning back with bitter tales of the substandard facilities they were provided by the Government, despite having paid Rs.2,38,000 per head for the Pakistan government package and up to double of that for a private package, an amount that is equal to lifetime saving. The housing provided to pilgrims lacked basic facilities such as running water, proper sanitation and electricity; in some cases the buildings were still under construction. The pilgrims faced a lot of trouble due to hiring of an unknown private transport company instead of hiring the official transport company of Saudi Arabia. Thousands of Pakistani pilgrims were left stranded in Mina without air-conditioned tents, water, toilets or food. Supreme Court of Pakistan has already taken a suo motu action on the basis of letter from Saudi Prince about corruption committed while hiring residential buildings for pilgrims. The people of Pakistan are left with one hope that the Judiciary would help the country to come out from the dark dungeons of chaos and confusion. SHAUKAT MASOOD ZAFAR, November 24.