Apropos report published in your newspaper shows that the Federal Government has withdrawn subsidy to citizens of Pakistan for performance of Hajj, which is obligatory only on those who can afford this pilgrimage. Hajjis performing pilgrimage under government scheme would now be paying Rs 176,426 more compared to what they paid last year, which is Rs. 456,426 as compared to last year’s cost of Rs. 280,000/.

While this decision is in accordance with religious injunctions regarding eligibility of those on whom this is obligatory, it is in stark contradiction to policy of this state which continues to give multiple plots to paid civil and uniformed employees of this country for performance of duties for which they are paid for, in addition to pension, lifelong medical benefits etc. There are numerous other benefits such as giving constructed house, several acres of land and expensive real estate to the paid elite of this country, where millions live below poverty line and are denied basic constitutional benefits such as subsidized education, health etc.

National security is compromised when State ignores its obligatory welfare to the most deprived sections of our society, exposing them to exploitation by extremists and known enemies of this country, and exhausting our limited resources to feed insatiable greed of a few who are obsessed with retaining this Colonial Legacy of allotment of state lands to paid or elected elite.

It will be assumed henceforth that no paid or elected public office holder, including head of state will perform religious rituals like Hajj or Umrah at state expense. Doubts do arise when most controversial Land Mafia Don is given reprieve by Federal Cabinet and allowed to travel abroad despite being on the exit control list.

MALIK TARIQ ALI,

Lahore, February 1.