The government of Pakistan has approved the Hajj policy for 2020, which allows 179,000 Pakistanis to perform Hajj this year at a higher cost.
The Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Noor ul Haq Qadri, announced the policy, saying that a total of 107,000 people will perform Hajj under the government’s scheme, the remaining will be facilitated by private agencies.
This year, the Hajj under the government package will cost Rs. 490,000 to pilgrims in the northern region, and Rs. 480,000 for the southern region, with an increase of Rs. 53,000. Last year, the expenses were kept at Rs. 427,000 and Rs. 437,000 for both regions, respectively.
Qadri noted that the government is forced to increase the cost due to several factors, such as an increase in the airfare of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Saudi Airlines, depreciation of the rupee vs USD, and additional arrangements in Mina and Makkah.
Furthermore, the Saudi government has imposed an additional fee of SR300 on visas and SR110 for compulsory health insurance.
He mentioned that the government was in talks with the Saudi government to get relief in the visa fee, the benefit of which will be passed on to the pilgrims. He recalled that the government reimbursed Rs. 5.5 billion to the pilgrims last year.
The minister mentioned that this year, a quota of 1,000 people has been allocated for overseas Pakistanis, and citizens over the age of 70 will be selected without balloting. Moreover, direct flights from Quetta to Jeddah and Medina will be operational this year.