KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): One person has been heading the Hajj and Islamic Affairs Department of southeastern Khost province over the past one and a half decades.
Mualvi Izharuddin, the Khost Hajj and Islamic Affairs director, in an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News said it was transparency in his leadership and good behavior with people that he remained on his position for a long time.
“Six or seven Hajj and Islamic affairs ministers came and gone during my stay in office. Some of the ministers did not know me but they fell in love with my after realizing our services,” he said.
He added that except this year, he had traveled to Saudi Arabia for offering Hajj every year.
Izharuddin performed the annual hajj pilgrimage every year except this year with 10 to 14 officials of his department and some ulema and all their expenses were paid from the government budget.
When asked if their repeated hajj performance violated other other people’s rights, he said: “The Hajj and Islamic Affairs ministry sent 250 ulema and officials to Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj, 12 of the officials were from Khost, it is not a privilege, it is a responsibility to guide pilgrims.”
Nasaruddin Dariz, publications in charge at the Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs (MoHIA), also appreciated the performance of Mualvi Izharuddin and said he was an active man and free of corruption.
He said the ministry was satisfied with his activities and he always provided good services to pilgrims.
However, Dariz said heads of revenue departments were replaced after each five years and of other departments after each seven years according to the president’s order.
He said posts of Hajj and Islamic affairs departments of 10 provinces including Khost would be re-announced in near future.
Meanwhile, a number of civil society activists said no director of a government department has the right to stay in office beyond three years according to the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC).
Asadullah Nawrozi, a civil society activist, told Pajhwok that the Hajj and Islamic affairs officials did not discharge their responsibilities according to their jobs and there were many other problems in the department.
“One of the important jobs of this department is ‘enjoining good and forbidding wrong’ but they have failed to implement this Islamic requisite, we ask the central government to bring reforms in this department and appoint qualified people,” he said.
Khost Ulema Council head, Shah Mohammad, said that most of Khost Islamic scholars were satisfied with the performance of the Hajj and Islamic affairs department of the province.
“We are satisfied with the current Hajj and Islamic affairs director because he sent us to the Hajj, I think the ministry sends him to offer pilgrimage every year, he does not do it with his personal will,” he said.
Meanwhile, Khost governor’s spokesman, Talib Mangal, said except the director, all other officials of the Hajj and Islamic Affairs department had to pass a test before traveling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj.
“The Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs takes an exam from a number of Islamic scholars before tasking them with training other pilgrims to perform Hajj,” he said.
A government official, who wished to go unnamed, said Mualvi Izharuddin took charge as the Khost Hajj and Islamic Affairs department after the fall of Taliban regime during then new government under former president, Hamid Karzai.
According to a presidential order, departmental posts should be reintroduced once after each five years, but Khost Hajj and Islamic Affairs department is among 15 other government organs in the province that are headed by one person for more than seven years.
Pajhwok contacted the provincial council head and members for comment on the issue, but they said they could not comment because they had no information about it.