Islamabad – The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony has addressed various queries regarding the upcoming Hajj to help the pilgrims perform the religious ritual with ease and comfort.
The ministry’s spokesperson took to social media on Monday and answered the queries of aspiring Hajj pilgrims, emphasizing that a valid Pakistani passport was mandatory to go on Hajj.
The spokesperson clarified that passports of any country other than Pakistan will not be accepted for this year’s Hajj, referring to the queries of overseas Pakistanis whether a Pakistani holding a non-Pakistani passport could apply from Pakistan
In his detailed response, the official stated that people who apply through the sponsorship scheme have the option to convert their ‘Maktab’ to category C but for this purpose, they would have to pay an additional amount i.e. $300.
In contrast, regular applicants are not allowed to change their ‘Maktab’, the official clarified.
As far as the schedule of flights is concerned, the official highlighted that pilgrims opting for the long Hajj package will depart first before those opting for the short Hajj option.
Additionally, it was informed that for those taking the short Hajj package, their flights would depart after 15 Zu al-Qa’dah. The spokesman underscored the need for a bank account but added that overseas Pakistanis who do not have a bank account can open an ‘Asaan’ account after coming to Pakistan.
The necessity of a bank account is due to any expected adjustments in the Hajj cost considering the fact that even last year, some of the amount was reimbursed to the pilgrims.
A bank account is compulsory for those applying through the regular Hajj scheme in Pakistan, the spokesman highlighted.
The official pointed out that if one prefers a single room with a double bed, they would have to pay Rs 180,000 per person for this option. For those applying through the sponsorship scheme and opting for a double bedroom, there is an additional cost of $635 per person.
The ministry official also explained that if a group of three people wanted a three-bedroom, each member of the group would have to pay Rs 60,000. For those applying through the sponsorship scheme, the additional cost is $215 per person.
The official also clarified the controversy regarding the expensive Short Hajj package despite that it is for less duration and said the season chosen for the short Hajj is the peak season, and accommodation, as well as round-trip tickets, are costlier during this period.
Pilgrims from other countries also have to pay more for the short Hajj than the long Hajj, the official claimed.
It is important to remember that applications for the Hajj will be accepted by the government from November 27 and will continue until December 12. This is the first time that the government has introduced the Short hajj package. A few days ago, caretaker minister for religious affairs and Interfaith harmony, Aneeq Ahmed said that discussions were underway with airline companies for reducing the price of tickets.