Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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Haj 2024: Pakistanis to get ‘free SIMs with internet’

Haj cost expected to be reduced further by Rs50,000, religious minister says

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APP
Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as they pray at the Grand Mosque, during the annual haj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia July 12, 2022. — Reuters
Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as they pray at the Grand Mosque, during the annual haj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia July 12, 2022. — Reuters

Caretaker Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony Aneeq Ahmed said Tuesday that the government would provide free-of-cost mobile SIMs with roaming internet packages to Pakistanis performing Haj in 2024.

In conversation with a private news channel, the caretaker minister said abayas would also be given to female pilgrims, having a Pakistani flag on the backside, and 13kg suitcases would be given to all.

The minister called the reduction of around Rs100,000 in the Haj cost a “historic step” taken by the caretaker government, noting that a further Rs50,000 would be slashed and the amount would be refunded to the people in their accounts.

He said a new mobile application has been designed to assist pilgrims, which will provide navigation support and enable constant communication between pilgrims and relevant officials.

Initially available in English and Urdu, the application will later incorporate various regional languages, he said, adding, that the app would also provide digital training programmes to every pilgrim.

The minister also disclosed a project that Haj ministry, with the collaboration of the education ministry, has planned to convert city mosques into schools to enroll out-of-school children where the mosques’ imams would play a leading role.

The minister said that mosques will play their role as community centers in every city areas, adding that imams will resolve community issues as well after offering prayers.

He said that haj ministry is taking all four provinces on board and enhancing the connectivity of mosques.

While describing another project, the minister said that his ministry with the collaboration of the health ministry has another project in the works, in which medical clinics will also be part of mosques.