The number of people who died at the Mina stampede is too high to not be inquired into. It is appalling that in today’s day and age, we have lost lives in such a massive number – not due to war, or famine, but due to administrative inefficiencies at the most important religious event in the world. While the global community is condoling with the Saudi government, should the Saudi princes not be the ones issuing apologies, that so many foreign citizens lost lives on their watch?

No concept of women’s rights? That’s okay. The Saudis have their own culture and way of doing things. No democratic setup? That okay too. The Saudis have their own political setup. Carpet-bombing Yemen over a sectarian dispute? Not an issue: the Kingdom must be protected at all costs. Beheadings, death penalties and human right abuses? Well, “human rights” is a western concept and is inapplicable here. A thousand dead in Makkah this year? Well, accidents happen, let’s not politicise this.

And that’s what was the Saudi Foreign Minister replied to Ayatollah Khameini, when the Iranian leader criticized the Kingdom and demanded an apology- that Iran was playing politics. The princes need to, just this once, act humble. Politics is everywhere- and it was especially present when Saudi officials blamed African pilgrims for causing a panic that cause the stampede, thus upsetting a whole continent by playing the race card. Other reports suggest that the carnage was caused by roadblocks due to VIPs visiting the Saudi King. Two of the entrances were thus closed and people were not able to move causing panic. Saudi Twitter users have set up an Arabic hashtag complaining of an Iranian “conspiracy to light the fuse of sectarianism”. Interesting that Saudi culpability is being avoided by reframing foreign outrage as a sectarian issue. According to reports, 140 Iranians died during the stampede, and Iran has thus the largest number dead. Just this once, Iran can be excused for being vocally critical.

The Foreign Office has confirmed that 18 Pakistani lives have been lost though there are conflicting reports from international media that over 200 Pakistanis had died. It is unclear why there is such a discrepancy in the reporting of numbers. It just makes the tragedy more disturbing.

The deaths will affect the complex internal politics of the Saudi royal family. There are reports of unusual internal dissent since King Salman came to the throne in January. Politics of the Kingdom is unstable and international opinion is becoming increasingly critical of how the royal family has managed it affairs. This is to the extent that there is an international interest in taking away the ownership of the Hajj administration from the Saudis, in exchange for an international council. Times are changing and the Saudi monarchy is not seen as infallible now as it once used to be.