Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Pir Noor ul Haq Qadri has said that the government will announce a new Hajj policy next week and applications will be accepted from the first week of February. Based on the government’s estimates, more than 200,000 Pakistanis will perform Hajj this year.
Due to several reasons, the per person cost of Hajj under the Government Scheme Hajj Package will be more than Rs. 500,000 this year, up from Rs. 436,975 in 2019. Primary reasons for this rise are depreciation of the rupee, increase in insurance premium, visa fees, value-added tax (VAT), property rents in Makkah and Madina, Maktab fees, and an increase in airlines’ fares.
Note that last year, every pilgrim was refunded up to Rs. 58,000 in 2019 so it’s safe to assume that the government is likely to reimburse them this year as well if the actual costs are lower.
New Features of Hajj Policy
Some of the important features of the new Hajj policy are:
- The ratio of private and government scheme hajj will be 40:60.
- Citizens aged 80 or more will be selected without balloting.
- Banks with more than 250 branches in the country will be eligible to receive Hajj applications.
- Banks will be bound to keep the payments of pilgrims in only Sharia-compliant accounts.
Immigration Clearance at Major Local Airports
Pakistan’s Ministry for Religious Affairs is in contact with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to initiate the road to Makkah project from all four provincial capitals. Last year, the road to Makkah project was started for pilgrims leaving from Islamabad International Airport.
Under the project, immigration and other paperwork of pilgrims is carried out at Pakistan’s airports. This saves pilgrims from waiting in long queues at the Saudi airports.
Applicants interested in applying for Hajj 2020 are advised to have a machine-readable passport with an expiry date up to February 1, 2021, and a valid CNIC.
Via: Business Recorder