Friday, November 17, 2023
ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Minister for Religious Affairs Aneeq Ahmed announced the Haj Policy 2024, slashing the expenses for the holy sojourn by Rs100,000 compared to last year, The News reported Friday.
Ahmed, while unveiling the salient features of the Haj Policy 2024, said that scheduled banks can start receiving applications under the regular scheme from November 27 to December 12.
The minister said that along with a long-duration Haj package of 38 to 42 days, the government has also decided to introduce a short-duration package of 20 to 25 days.
He said the Haj cost under the government scheme has been reduced to Rs1,075,000 for the next Haj compared to the Rs1,175,000 charged for this year’s Haj but assured that there would be no compromise on the quality of arrangements regardless of the reduction in expenses.
However, the government would charge Rs75,000 as the extra amount for the short-duration package. The minister said that Haj expenses for applicants from the southern region of the country would be Rs1,065,000 with an additional Rs75,000 for short duration package. An amount of Rs60,000 would be received as charges for sacrificial animals.
The religious affairs minister said the Haj quota for Pakistan is 17,9210, and will be equally distributed between the government and private Haj operators.
Ahmed said negotiations are continuing with the airlines to get reduced airfare for the Haj operation.
“If we succeed in securing relief in the airfare, the amount will be transferred to the accounts of pilgrims.”
He said the pilgrims would get back Rs35,000 if they choose to stay for four days instead of eight days in Madina.
As a salient feature of the Haj Policy, permission has been granted to women having no mahram to apply for Haj in light of recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII). However, such women would have to get permission from their parents or husbands with the condition that they would select a group having trustworthy people.
Those who have performed Haj in the last five years would not be eligible to submit applications. However, a Mehram accompanying a woman who is performing Haj for the first time and those who apply as per the sponsorship scheme would be exempted from the same restriction.
Both the government’s regular scheme and private would have a quota of 89,605 each. From the government scheme, a quota of 25,000 has been fixed for the sponsorship scheme while 50% of the private scheme would be reserved for the sponsorship scheme.
Those applying under the sponsorship scheme would have to submit expenses in foreign exchange ($4,015) and they would be accommodated on a first come first served basis.
The caretaker minister said Haj 2024 will be digitalised wherein pilgrims will get a mobile application that can be used without internet. The app will have many features, including an option to lodge their complaints.
He said the pilgrims would be provided with free-of-cost things including a SIM with seven GB of data, a suitcase having a QR code, Ihram belts for men, an abaya for women and shoe bags.
He added that apart from Islamabad airport, Karachi has also been included in the Road to Makkah project adding they have requested the Saudi government to include Lahore in the same.
Under the project, the Saudi teams carry out immigration, security and customs checks of intending pilgrims before their departure for the Kingdom.