The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah, and a compulsory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime. This year, a record 2 million people embarked on the journey of a lifetime; several Pakistanis people in the mix as well. For too many, this would be their last.
The Pakistani Government has always had very close relationship to the Saudi Kingdom, a friendship that has lasted through wars and conflict. As we learned about the Mina Stampede of 2015, the response of the Pakistani Government was lackluster and proved to be concerning for the people who sent their loved ones away. Salman Masood from the New York Times, reports
“Immediately after the stampede Sept. 24, Pakistani officials tried to play down its scale, initially claiming that only 10 Pakistanis had died while acknowledging that at least 300 were missing. Since then, senior officials have been careful in their statements regarding the stampede.”
A large number of Pakistani pilgrims were killed in the stampede, and most families do not even know what has happened to their families even today, many days after the incident. Many people agree with the written word of The Nation, a conservative English-written newspaper in Lahore, reading “The Pakistani government, which should be hounding the Saudis, is instead covering their tracks and in the process is showing incalculable apathy for the Pakistani pilgrims.” The failure of the Pakistani Government to report the deaths and demand that the Saudi Government give them information has led to Pakistani families spending Eid-ul-Adha worrying about their loved ones, when they should be rejoicing for the return of their loved ones or mourning the loss. This confused environment has brought the poor, who spent their whole lives saving for Hajj, in tears, and others in anger with the response of their government in this situation. Every country has learned the total numbers of deaths and injuries, while Pakistan, who claims to have close ties, has not even found that out from the Kingdom. This outrage has spread to the American-Pakistani people as well, as they believe equal treatment is needed and the jaded response by their own country must be taken in the hands of the Pakistani people. The failure of the Pakistani Government to establish a position in the world and voice their issues has effects that trickle all the way down to the impoverished villages. The Pakistani Government, in light of all of these tragic incidents, have made the Hajj of 2015 full of trepidation and has led to spite from the Awam.