Rabani govt allegedly sold state property in Makkah
KABUL (Pajhwok): A huge building known as Rabat-e-Afghani and the property of Afghan government in Makkah, the holiest city in Saudi Arabia, has reportedly been sold by a former high-ranking official in Afghan government.
But the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs contradicted the claim by saying that the area had been merged following extension of Masjid-ul-Haram.
Rabat-e-Afghani was a specific area owned by Afghan government for years where Afghan pilgrims used to stay. It was also known as Haji Khana or Karwan Sarai-i-Sulimani.
However, just recently reports emanated that during the rule of Ustad Burhanuddin Rabbani, dispute erupted among some officials over the ownership of Rabat-e-Afghani building. Later, the ownership of the building was claimed by pro-Rabbani people.
Mohammad Faqir Akhunzada, who hails from Kandahar province and has been living in Makkah with his family since 20 years, said the Rabat-e-Afghani building was a good place for poor Afghan pilgrims.
Another religious scholar Mullah Abdul Ghani used to teach pilgrims about Hajj related rituals at the facility.
Ghani said the building was sold to an Arab Sheikh by a close aide of Ustad Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former president of Afghanistan, on throwaway price.
It was decided that the payment would be made in three installments, he said, adding that the Arab Sheikh leveled that structure of the building and constructed new building.
The Sheikh, he said had also paid the first installment but then soon the government of Rabbani was collapsed.
According to Akhunzada, during the Taliban regime, the issue was taken up but could not be resolved because Taliban had no friendly ties with Saudi Arabia in the first years of their government.
Abdul Hai Habibi, an Afghan historian writes about Rabat-e-Afghani: “Abdul Karim Barakzai and Mehrabuddin Noorzai had constructed the building following directions by Ahmad Shah Baba, the then king of Afghan empire in early 18th century.”
Another Afghan historian Mir Ghulam Mohammad Ghubar and an Indian historian endorsed Habibi’s view point. Ghubar writes: “Ahmad Shah Durrani had dispatched two of his close aides--- Mehrabuddin and Abdul Karim Barakzai--- to Makkah to build Hajji Khana, a building for Afghan pilgrims.”
Akhunzada said the building was sold by Mohammad Siddique Chakari, then minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs during the government Ustad Rabbani.
But Dai-ul-Haq Abid, deputy minister Hajj and Religious Affairs, rejected selling out Rabat-e-Afghani by Chakari. He said the land buying and selling agreement took place by court in Saudi Arabia and individuals were not authorized to ink such a big deal.
A permanent Afghan consulate is existed in Makka, he said, adding negotiations in this regard were underway with Saudi officials.
The president, hajj and foreign affairs ministers had been working on this issue, he said, adding that the case was in hands of lawyer to convince the Saudi Arabia government to either allocate a piece of land in the vicinity of holy city or pay the amount back.
According to Abidi, currently there is no specific residential facility for Afghan pilgrims in Makka and they had to get residential facility on rent.
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