The increase of up to eight thousand in Haj fares is cruel given the prevailing inflation. The news will particularly come as a bombshell for Hajis living below the poverty line. Haj being one of the foremost religious obligations, it is the government’s moral duty to facilitate the pilgrims as much as it can. Raising the prices and that too by such a huge margin is no service to those who already have to spend their hard earned savings on other travel related expenses.
One extra worry is taxation that comes in different forms in Pakistan as well as in Saudi Arabia. This is moreover once in a year occasion when one expects the government and the concerned contractors to show some generosity. If they cannot display any sense of altruism, at least they ought to restrain their greed, which gets the better of them once they see any opportunity to make a quick buck. Rulers who make Haj deliberately difficult for the masses to perform should be ashamed of themselves. Can the people expect them to be fair and honest? A serious effort has to be made in order to ensure that the Haj authorities carry out their duties transparently in a way that helps the pilgrims. The corruption scandal has seriously dented the PPP government’s credibility, which is seen as raking it in at the cost of the faithful. Keeping the fares within a rational limit is not asking for too much. The rates must be reduced as per inflation.