ISLAMABAD: Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri has said the cabinet accorded approval to Hajj Policy 2020.
He said this year the hajj quota of intending pilgrims from Pakistan was 1,79,200 and the efforts were being made to increase the number.
Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, addressing a news conference along with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan in Islamabad, said around 107,000 pilgrims will perform Hajj under government while remaining (72,200) under the private scheme.
He said sixty percent pilgrims will be offered hajj through government scheme while forty percent through private tour operators. He said transparency and merit will be ensured while selecting private tour operators as per the directions of the Supreme Court.
Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said the hajj package through government scheme is 4,90,000 rupees for intending pilgrims of north region and 4,80,000 rupees for those from southern region of the country.
He said the increase in hajj package is due to surge in airline fares and depreciation of Pakistani rupee among other reasons. He said the Saudi Arabian government has levied an additional fee of 300 riyals for hajj visa and 110 riyals for mandatory health insurance. Similarly, the cost of residence has also gone up in Makkah.
The Minister said last year the government reimbursed an amount of 5.50 billion rupees to the pilgrims and this year efforts are being made to minimize the burden on intending pilgrims.
If we multiply the minimum cost of the government scheme (Rs480,000) with the total number of pilgrims (107,000) being sent under this scheme, the total cost will be 51.36 billion rupees.
Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said 22,000 Pakistanis benefitted from Road to Makkah project in Islamabad last year and this year talks are underway to extend it to Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta.
He said around 22,000 Pakistanis pilgrims benefited from Road to Makkah project in Islamabad last year and this year talks were underway to extend it to Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta.
The minister said 70-year old and above pilgrims would be sent without balloting this year adding 1,000 quota was also allocated for overseas Pakistanis who wished to perform Hajj with their relatives.
A joint working office would be set up with Saudi Hajj Ministry for prompt redressal of pilgrims issues.
He said direct flights from Quetta to Jaddah and Madina would also be operated this year while temporary Hajji camp for pilgrims of Gilgit-Baltistan would be established for their convenience.
The minister said biometric and mobile biometric centres would also be set up on the recommendations of the parliamentarians in far flung areas of the country to facilitate the intending pilgrims.