ISLAMABAD – Interior Minister Rehman Malik is still into hot waters as Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) probing Haj scam for the second time has issued notices to 427 politicians and journalists who performed free Haj during the years 2009 and 2010 on his invitation.

FIA has also issued notice to the property tycoon and chief executive of Bahria Town Malik Riaz, who is believed to be the main sponsor of this There were a total of 200 journalists, politicians and their families who performed free Haj during the year 2009, while 248 journalists and politicians performed Haj in 2010 on the invitation of Rehman Malik.

Well-placed sources in FIA disclosed that earlier FIA issued notices to 248 people who performed Haj during 2010 out of which only 21 people appeared before the investigation team of the agency. They said this time notices had been issued to all the people, who performed free Haj during the consecutive two years excluding 21 people.

Religious Affairs Ministry had demanded outstanding bills worth millions from the Ministry of Interior to which it had to bear for arranging the accommodation and transportation during the stay of these special pilgrims in Saudi Arabia. The Ministry had denied paying the amount.

Some officials of the Ministry, wishing not to be named, are of the view that the money should be recovered from the Interior Minister as these people had performed Haj on the request of Rehman Malik. They said the Interior Minister tried his best to resolve the issue before the next hearing of Haj scam in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

They added the money would be paid to the Religious Affairs Ministry in some way or other. FIA investigators are of the opinion that the apex court would decide the matter even if the money was paid to Ministry of Religious Affairs.