Shrines: gold mines for corrupt Auqaf officials



In the absence of any action against corruption cartel in Punjab Auqaf and Religious Department, the department is losing millions in more than 80 shrines all over the province. There has not been any action in this regard despite it being common knowledge. The officials of the department, especially grade-4 employees, are playing the main role in the facilitation of this process. Every month, with their help, millions of rupees are pilfered as newly posted officers look towards these employees for loopholes in stealing money on the condition of a 50pc share.

An Auqaf official, on anonymity, has told Pakistan Today that such cases are common in the department. Some time ago, in Badshahi Mosque, a large amount of money was stolen, which did not go unattended and the police and head office of the Auqaf department acted on time and started investigations into it. The report was submitted to head office, as well.

This whole investigation venture was compromised, as the investigation case-in-charge, Sufi Aslam, was suspended and was transferred to Bahawalpur with the connivance of higher officials and the mosque administrator.

In an other incident at the shrine of Pir Makki, Lahore, where Manager Imran Tabassum along with three gatekeepers was deemed guilty in the case of shrine’s stolen money; despite the result, no action whatsoever was taken.

The major shrines of Punjab, which are a home to thousands of pilgrims, include: Data Darbar; Bibi Pak Daman; Mian Meer; Madho Laal; Bulhy Shah; Shah Jamal; Farid Gunj Baksh; Bahaudin Zakriya; Shah Rukan-e-Alam; Haq Bahu Sultan; Syed Muhmmad Ismael; Sher-e-Rabbani Mian Sher Muhammad, Sharaqpur, and Baba Shah Chand Wali. All of the aforementioned shrines and various others are victims to the grift of Auqaf officials.

According to sources, the shrines are a source of million rupees to the treasury, but without any stringent measure, 80 percent of the money goes into the pockets of the officials, with 20 percent going in the office records.

Every time a cash box at a shrine is opened, a team from the head office goes to the occasion for the supervision. In the presence of the team, any extra cash – if it is more than last year’s book—is stolen and distributed among the respective people.

In the early days of the posting of Director Finance, teams’ visit were regularised, which led to a significant decrease in the corruption and the money collected from the cash boxes was far more than the past amounts, but with time, that vigilance waned and things are back to the way they were.

When contacted for Auqaf’s finance director for his point of view, he hung up on your correspondent without any answers.