MINISTRY DECIDES TO CONDUCT AUDIT OF KARTAPUR CORRIDOR PROJECT
The Ministry of Religious Affairs on Tuesday decided to conduct an audit of the Kartarpur corridor project.
As the National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on Religious Affairs met under the chairmanship of Maulana Asad Mehmood, federal secretary for religious affairs informed the panel that the entire construction work in Kartarpur had been carried out by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), the military’s engineering organisation.
He said that a letter had been written to the auditor general of Pakistan for the audit of FWO.
The Kartarpur corridor is a visa-free border crossing, connecting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan to the border with India.
The crossing allows Sikh devotees from India to visit the Gurdwara in Kartarpur, 4.7 kilometres from the India-Pakistan border without a visa, creating a link which allows pilgrims holding Indian passports to easily visit both the Kartarpur shrine and Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak on the Pakistani side of the border.
The FWO was assigned the construction of the project.
Deliberating on other issues, committee chairman Maulana Asad Mehmood noted that the Ruet-e-Hilal committee was responsible for the sighting of moon and that that it was not the work of science and technology.
He told the committee members that a representative from the Ministry of Science and Technology sat in the Ruet-e-Hilal committee and added that according to Sharia (Islamic law), the sighting of moon was mandatory.
The committee chairman directed the religious affairs secretary to take up the matter of insults hurled at Hindu religion on social media with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
The NA committee also discussed the issue of forced conversions and a bill in this regard was presented by assembly member Dr Ramesh Kumar.
The religious affairs secretary told the committee that this bill was under review in the joint parliamentary committee and suggested avoiding holding discussion on the issue until the panel forwarded its final recommendations on it.
Kumar said the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) should be asked not to reject the bill in one sitting.
Shahida Akhtar Ali observed that the recommendations should be sought from the CII and stated that the council had declared that the bill was against the constitution.
The committee secretary pointed out that the Supreme Court had also declared the legislation in this regard unnecessary as the constitution provided protection against forced conversions.
The committee chairman suggested that references should sought on points which were against the religion and constitution.
The committee postponed the discussion on the issue.
The NA panel was informed that the PTA had blocked some 10,000 websites containing objectionable material against holy personalities in the last two months.
The committee could not decide on the constitution of a sub-committee for the Zaireen (pilgrims).
The committee chairman said that the issue of formation of a parliamentary committee for Zaireen would be raised with the NA speaker.
The religious affairs secretary said that the registration of Zaireen group operators would be carried out by the religious affairs ministry and the performance of tour operators would be monitored during pilgrims’ visits.
The meeting also mulled over forming a Balochistan zaireen committee.
The panel was told that a memorandum of understanding would be signed with the Iran and Iraq governments for zaireen visa and that a proposal to establish the office of a director general in Karbala, while offices of directors in Quetta and Mashhad was being considered.
The standing committee, while suggesting to appoint separate director generals for Mashhad and Karbala, called for providing better facilities to the pilgrims at Taftan border.