ISLAMABAD - Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has declared that the government could subsidise the sacred religious ceremony of Haj in any shape without any discrimination, said Chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz on Wednesday.

Talking to media persons after the conclusion of two-day meeting of the council’s 214th sitting, Qibla said the council had reviewed the Bill forwarded by Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony for the council’s opinion on the issue. The council was off the view that there was no harm in facilitating the Hujjaj.

The subsidy could be offered in transport fares, food, accommodations. Non-Muslim countries also facilitate the Haj journey of their Muslim citizens.

Qibla however said that the Haj subsidy could not be paid from Zakat accounts. “According to Sharia, the subsidy should be provided across the board and on equal basis. The government should provide the facility to the poor and rich sans any discrimination whether they are performing Haj on government quota or through private tour operators,” the chairman added.

“It is now up to the government that how they will grant the subsidy as the previous authorities had fixed Rs45,000 in terms of Haj subsidy,” maintained Qibla.

He said the meeting reviewed the preliminary recommendations of a committee constituted to prepare an outline for devising ultimate features of Riyasat-e-Madinah.

The meeting was of the view that the committee comprising Dr Farkhanda Zia, Allama Arif Wahidi, Khurshid Nadeem and Dr Anwar would prepare a draft and forward it to the CII. The recommendations of the committee will be sent to the federal government.

The council asked the government to constitute a task force for preparing comprehensive recommendations, strategy and implementation. The CII would provide technical and other necessary assistance.

The council has recommended to the government to make effective laws and tighten existing laws to provide right to inheritance to women. The council was of the view that depriving women from right to inheritance is contrary to provision of Sharia. The council has decided to cooperate with Ministry of Human Rights in empowering women. The council has asked Dr Anwar to coordinate with Ministry of Human Rights in this regard.

He said the council has also discussed Charities Act 2018 of Punjab (to donate charities). The council is of the view that certain clauses of the Act were against Sharia. The Act needs further improvements. A committee led by Justice Manzoor Gilani has been assigned to prepare improvement recommendations and alternate draft.

The council expressed its dismay and indignation over last day’s gory incident in Loralai district of Balochistan and offered Fateha for the martyred police officials, who had sacrificed their lives for the nation and country.

The council also strongly condemned Sahiwal incident and stressed ensuring protection of lives and properties of the people. The council urged Ulema, media and opinion makers to play their role for preserving and ensuring sanctity of common man.

Earlier the chairman condemned the sacking of journalists by some TV channels. He urged media tycoons to avoid sacking journalists.

On January 26, the Haj Policy 2019 proposed an increase of Rs156,975, driving up Haj expenses of pilgrims from the north and south regions by 56 percent and 58 percent respectively.

The Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony was informed that Haj expenses were increased due to exchange rates and higher airfare. The committee called for monitoring of private Haj tour operators and stressed the need for reduction of airfares to enable pilgrims to perform Haj and Umrah.

The PML-N government had sanctioned subsidy of Rs45,000 for each pilgrim during its last tenure but now the PTI government is mulling over to formulate new Haj policy for the next five years.