ISLAMABAD: Toll of Pakistani pilgrims martyred in Mina stampede has reached to 97 as two more have been confirmed dead on Monday.
As many as 20 Pakistani pilgrims are still missing while two are under treatment in Saudi hospital.
Religious Affairs Ministry has issued an update on the Mina tragedy according to which 97 Pakistan nationals have lost lives. At least 56 pilgrims have been laid to rest in Saudi Arabia out of the total. Reliable information about 309 Pakistanis has been received so far in the matter.
The ministry was directed by Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif right after the mishap to upload details including passport numbers and names of the pilgrims who were either missing, under treatment or were confirmed dead. The ministry had established a telephone line and an information desk to provide details to the families concerned. However, some reports surfaced that the number was not functional.
Soon after the incident, British newspaper, The Guardian reported that at least 236 Pakistanis had lost lives until then but the Foreign Office (FO) rejected the claims.
The Senate saw uproar recently where Usman Kakar alleged Saudi officials of ‘carelessness’. He also said that Saudi government has failed to assist in the matter despite earning billions of dollars. Minister of State for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Aminul Hasnat Shah said told the Senate that Saudi security personnel had cordoned off the Pakistan High Commission (HC) and barred it from carrying out any rescue activities on its own. However, the HC had rescued at least 23 Pakistani nationals before that, he added.
The death toll of the Mina stampede during Hajj this year makes it the most deadliest incident of the ingoing year. Statements gathered from at least 19 countries suggest that 1,453 pilgrims have lost lives in the incident. Saudi kingdom got a lot of flak from its rival Iran for not being able to protect pilgrims. Statement of Iran foreign department stated that the stampede claimed lives of at least 465 nationals.
At least 12 days before the incident, a crane accident claimed 100 lives in Makkah’s Grand Mosque. The scale of this year’s worshippers’ death toll makes the previous years’ tragedies look paltry.
According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), the second worst tragedy during Hajj before this one was in 1990 when 1,436 worshipers lost lives in stampede as pilgrims were rushing out of tunnel in Makkah. Saudi government has announced a handsome compensation for the victims’ families across the world.
A press conference held by Mufti Naeem of Jamia Binoria in Karachi Press Club on October 11 criticised the government for having an ‘indifferent’ attitude towards Saudi-Iran relations after the stampede. Mufti said that Saudis did everything they could to help in the matter. However, he said that Iran’s assailment of regional rival should at least draw Pakistani government’s attention sparking a reaction.
Mufti Naeem said that Iran is trying to give Mina stampede a sectarian colour. All Mufti-led supporters who were present at the conference endorsed the leader’s opinion and said that Pakistan should stand up in favour of Saudi in tough times.