Niazi satisfies Wolesi Jirga over alleged anomalies
KABUL (PAN): Haj and Islamic Affairs Minister Mohammad Yousaf Niazi was able on Monday to satisfy the Wolesi Jirga, lower house, after he was summoned to brief lawmakers about alleged anomalies during last year’s haj operations.
On Sunday, some lawmakers claimed the minister had sent 700 people to Saudi Arabia to perform last year’s ritual by using special quotas. By doing so, the MPs said Niazi had deprived eligible people from performing the annual pilgrimage.
Kamal Nasir Asuli, the house education, higher education, religious and cultural affairs commission head, on Monday told the house he had credible evidence proving the minister had violated the rights of others by replacing them with people not on a pilgrim list displayed after a ballot.
However, Khalid Pakhtun, an MP from Kandahar province, alleged the hajj minister had been summoned for his personal problems with some lawmakers as he did not allow the house panel to send pilgrims in private airlines.
Coming hard on Pakhtun, Hila Ershad, a member of the commission, asked him to identify who had asked the minister for the service of private airlines. “Otherwise, his remarks amount to disrespect to all 23 members of the commission. If Pakhtun is unable to do, then he must say sorry,” he said, but Pakhtun remained silent.
Later, addressing the house, Niazi rejected all the allegations against him. “All the 700 pilgrims have not been sent by using special quotas, but some of them have replaced absent people,” he said.
The minister added 350 of the absent pilgrims were to be sent through a quota granted to the Wolesi Jirga, but they did turn up for the haj. “For example, 70 people from Faryab, 30 each from Samangan and Sar-i-Pul provinces, and seven from Ghazni province have their names on the pilgrim list, but they were missing, and finally we have to send other people,” the minister explained.
He further stressed that under pressure from the Cabinet, his ministry sent 218 family members of martyrs to perform haj last year, besides sending relatives of MPs, government officials through special quotas.
When the house asked Niazi to name MPs interfering in the ministry’s affairs, he said they included Shukria Barakzai, Mirwais Yasini, Fariba Kakar, Amir Khanyar and Abdul Qadir.
Barakzai, Kakar and Khanyar were present in the house, but they did not react.
Commenting on the document produced by Asuli, Niazi said signatures on the papers were forged.
Later, the house administrative board asked Niazi to leave, so the MPs could take a decision in his absence.
Of the 162 MPs present, 63 raised green cards to express their satisfaction with Niazi’s arguments. Fifty lawmakers voted against the minister and 49 others stayed away from the voting.
Article 92 of the Constitution says, “The House of People, on the proposal of twenty percent of all its members, shall make inquiries from each minister. If the explanations given are not satisfactory, the house shall consider the issue of a no-confidence vote.
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