KABUL - Wolesi Jirga, lower house of Parliament, members on Monday accused the hajj and Islamic affairs minister of failing to do his job well and summoned him to answer lawmakers' questions regarding his performance.
The ministry had received fees from a number of intending pilgrims, but failed to send them to Saudi Arabia for the hajj pilgrimage, alleged a lawmaker from northern Balkh province, Maulvi Abdul Rahmani.
He said 715 people, who had deposited money in banks, were still waiting at the Eidgah Mosque to be airlifted to Saudi Arabia. He accused the minister, Mohammad Yusuf Niazi, of not attending telephone calls from parliamentarians.
"I am a legislator. When the minister does not take my call, will he attend to calls from those spending nights at the Eidgah Mosque?" he asked. Rahmani said a senior official at the ministry had sent seven of his relatives to Saudi Arabia for the performance of hajj. However, he did not name the official.
Another MP from northern Sari-i-Pul province, Mohammad Hassan Sharif Balkhi, blasted the minister for being unable to perform his duty efficiently. A number of people, who applied late for hajj, were able to go to Saudi Arabia because they had links with people at the ministry, he claimed.
Mohammad Arif Rahmani, a legislator from southern Ghazni province, said a number of Afghan pilgrims in Saudi Arabia had complained their accommodation was far away from Haram Sharif. He said the pilgrims were faced with numerous problems, which the ministry had failed to resolve.
Concluding the debate, MPs called for summoning the minister to the house to answer their queries. Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said the constitutional requirement should be fulfilled for summoning the minister.
Under Article 92, a tenth of the house members can summon a minister. If answers given by the minister are not convincing, the house can bring a vote of no-confidence against him/her.
Ibrahimi said the issue of Niazi would be referred to the committee of parliamentary commission heads so as a decision could be reached.
When contacted, the hajj minister said MPs had no right to summon him. Niazi told Pajhwok Afghan News he was able to answer questions posed lawmakers.
He said his ministry had sent to Saudi Arabia 30,000 pilgrims, who had deposited fees in the stipulated time. He added the process of sending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia would be completed today. The minister said the Saudi government had promised issuing visas to another 100 Afghan pilgrims.