Saudi Arabia has raised the quota for Pakistani pilgrims for Hajj 2019, a statement from the Ministry of Religious Affairs announced on Sunday.
According to the ministry, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have signed an agreement in this regard.
Under the agreement, more than 184, 000 Pakistani pilgrims – 5000 more than this year – will perform Hajj next year.
Saudis also promised the minister to consider a further increase in hajj quota for Pakistan according to the new census, after some consultation.
Minister of Religious Affairs Pir Noor ul Haq Qadri and his Saudi counterpart, while signing an agreement, also agreed to include Pakistani pilgrims in ‘Road to Makkah’ project in phases. As many as 35,000 pilgrims from Sindh will benefit from this scheme during hajj 2019.
E-visa for Pakistani Pilgrims
As per the agreement, Pakistani pilgrims will get an e-visa for the next year’s Hajj and the verification and immigration process of the pilgrims will be conducted at Karachi Airport
Reduction in Visa Fee Uncertain
Saudi foreign department informed Pakistan that the decision on the visa fee reduction is yet to be implemented.
According to Saudi authorities, they will make a final decision regarding the abolition of fee after consulting with Khadim-e-Haramayn al-Sharifayn.
It should be mentioned here that the Saudi high-ups, after a special request from Prime Minister Imran Khan, had agreed to reduce visa fee for Pakistanis from 2000 riyals to just 300.
The Religious Minister thanked his Saudi counterpart for considering the suggestions made by Pakistan.
Hajj Policy 2019
In November, Qadri informed the national assembly that his ministry has started to work on Hajj policy 2019 which would be completed in three months.
He stated that the Hajj dues for the coming year would be decided after consultation with all the stakeholders.
He promised to take the House into confidence on the fee structure for hajis.