ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: A total of 143,368 Pakistanis would perform Hajj in 2015 and for which applications will be received from April 27 to May 8, according to the government’s Hajj Policy 2015.
In his address at a news conference in Islamabad on Friday, the Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf announced the Hajj policy and said that the government and private Hajj group organisers will operate on a 50-50 quota.
The minister said that the banks will accept Hajj applications from April 27 till May 8, adding that applications can be submitted with the specified branches of 10 different banks.
Yousaf said that balloting will be conducted this year to select the successful Hajj applicants as against the last year’s policy of first come first served basis. He said that balloting will be done on May 14.
The Hajj policy states that anyone who has performed Hajj during the last five years will not be eligible to perform pilgrimage this year except for those people who will be going as ‘Mehram’ or the ones performing ‘Hajj-e-Badal’.
The minister said that the government has reduced the Hajj package for the North region that includes Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Rs272,231 to Rs264,971 while the package for South Region that includes areas of Sindh and Balochistan has been reduced from Rs262,231 to Rs255,971.
The Hujjaj who opt to perform their Qurbani through government scheme will have to pay additional Rs14,210.
Under the government scheme, the Hujjaj will be provided food in Mecca, Madina and Mina as per the practice of last year.
The minister for religious affairs Sardar said the airfare has been reduced to Rs98,700 from Rs107,700 for the North Zone while the airfare for South Zone has been cut to Rs89, 700 from Rs97,700. He made it clear that there will be no free Hajj this year as per the past tradition.
The machine readable passports, computerized national identity cards and medical certificate has been made mandatory for the Hujjaj.
Yousaf said that under the government scheme, 50 percent intending pilgrims will be airlifted directly to Madina and 50 percent to Jeddah. He said that no new Hajj group organizers will be given quota this year.
Moreover, the minister said that elaborate arrangements will be made to facilitate the Hujjaj in Saudi Arabia. In this connection, a medical mission of 450 people will be sent to the holy land.
Sardar Muhammad Yousaf said that transport facility will be provided to the Hujjaj round the clock besides they will be accommodated at one place as different categories of accommodation have been abolished.
Yousaf said that Hajj operation monitoring system has been strengthened. He said that the complaints of the Hujjaj will be listened to and addressed through call centers, emails and special monitoring teams.
The minister further said that the Hujjaj will be provided with five liters of Zam Zam at Pakistani airports on their return from the pilgrimage.