Home South Asia Pakistan Shrines under the watchful eye: CJP orders forensic audit

Shrines under the watchful eye: CJP orders forensic audit

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The Punjab Auqaf Department has been ordered by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to submit a forensic audit of the money which has been collected in donations at the shrines, local publications reported. Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar was informed by the lawyer who appeared on behalf of the government that so far, “Rs820 million had been collected in donations at shrines this year”.

The CJP remarked that the money should have been used for extending better facilities to visitors at shrines as people donate their hard-earned money to shrines but it was being dispensed without any proper usage.

Shrines and other departments under the Auqaf have been misused and have been contested in courts.

The lawyer said that this amount was being used to pay salaries of employees and their pensions. During the hearing, the CJP asked the provincial secretary Auqaf when he had last visited the Data Darbar and what steps he had taken for the improvement of the conditions of shrines.

In response, the secretary Auqaf said that he had visited the shrine six days ago and conditions at the shrine were improving. The CJP inquired the secretary about his visits to shrines over the past six months. Dismissing the report submitted by the Auqaf department, he said that it was unsatisfactory and ordered the department to submit another report after a forensic audit of donation spendings.

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Shrines and other departments under the Auqaf have been misused and have been contested in courts. Earlier this month, the top court issued a notice to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif in a Suo Motu matter related to the allotment of 1800 kanals Auqaf land around Pakpattan shrine to an individual in 1985 in violation of a high court order.

The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar also issued the public notice to 8,200 individuals who purchased hundreds of allotted kanals land to Dewan Moudood Masud by Nawaz Sharif, who was then serving as the Punjab Chief Minister.

The minister stated that Pakistan attached great importance to its special relations with Uzbekistan and desired to further expand its cooperation to all fields.

Shrines in Pakistan like any other country are of significant value given the sentiments of believers attached to the scholars and religious leaders buried in them. Hence enormous donations pour in for their maintenance and annual ‘Urs’ generate huge economy and promote religious tourism.

Earlier this month, Ambassador of Uzbekistan Firqat Sidiqov had called on the federal minister for religious affairs and interfaith harmony Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri to discuss bilateral religious tourism as both countries have a number of important holy shrines and there is a cast scope of religious tourism.

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The minister stated that Pakistan attached great importance to its special relations with Uzbekistan and desired to further expand its cooperation to all fields. Both sides expressed satisfaction over the present status of collaboration and agreed to promote religious tourism between Pakistan and Uzbekistan– as more than seven sacred shrines including the shrine of Imam Bukhari are present in Bukhara, Samarqand and other cities of Uzbekistan.

In this regard, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed during the official visit of the minister in November later this year.


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