ISLAMABAD (APP): The Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony on Wednesday emphasized printing the Holy Quran’s copies “error-free” and on quality papers.

Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidari chaired the committee’s meeting, which was attended by Senator Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, Senator Gurdeep Singh, Senator Anwar Lal Dean, Senator Sajid Mir, Senator Haji Hidayatullah Khan, Senator Danesh Kumar, and senior officers from the religious affairs ministry.

Matters including the publication of Holy Quran (Elimination of Printing and Recording Errors) (Amendment) Bill, 2022; details of expenditures incurred on Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hassan Abdal by Evacuee Trust Property Board; Hajj Policy 2023; report published in a local newspaper on alleged distortions in translations of the Holy Quran came under discussion during the meeting.

The ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony briefed the committee that to keep the reverence of Holy Quran alive, its “error-free publication” and sanctity of the used papers, the aforementioned draft law [(Elimination of Printing and Recording Errors) (Amendment) Bill, 20220)] was tabled.

The ministry recalled that the federal cabinet approved the draft of proposed law in 2018. The ministry said that after approval from the National Assembly in November, 2022, this bill was presented in the Senate in January this year.

Senator Sabir Shah said this bill was of a great importance, in which several points had to be added. He said some copies of the Holy Quran were printed on “sub-standard papers”.

“Besides taking care of sacred papers, it was also essential to stop using sub-standard papers as “printing mafia used sub-standard papers for publication of the Holy Quran for personal gains”, he alleged. He emphasized that in the proposed law, the use of the quality paper for the publication of the Holy Quran should be made mandatory.

To this, the ministry informed that the use of a quality standard paper was included, adding that at least 57 grams of paper would be used for publication of the Holy Quran under the proposed bill. The ministry further said such paper could not be used in the printing or publication of the Holy Quran which writing was visible on the other side of the paper.

The committee besides presenting the paper samples directed to invite the secretaries of four provinces related to religious affairs ministries in the next meeting.

The committee chairman said the provinces would be consulted on the printing and publication of the Holy Quran and quality of the paper .

In briefing on the provision of facilities to Sikh Yatris, the ministry said India should increase the number of visas for Pakistani pilgrims. Despite of an agreement between Pakistan and India, 50 years ago, regarding respective pilgrimages to religious places, Pakistanis were issued around 200 or 250 visas instead of agreed 500 visas by the Indian authorities.

Despite issuing limited visas, India created hurdles in the smooth sailing of pilgrimages for Pakistanis, it added.

The ministry said Pakistan had repeatedly raised the issue before the Indian authorities and demanded revision of the agreement. The ministry further apprised the committee that it had demanded the New-Delhi to increase the number of visas to at least 2,000, but it did not pay any heed towards it.

It said Pakistan provided all facilities, including accommodation and food to Sikh and Hindu pilgrims free of charge, while the money was collected for rent and other items worldwide.

The ministry informed that rooms were being built for Sikh pilgrims at Panja Sahib Hasan Abdal at a cost of Rs900 million.

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