KARACHI- Dr. Aneeq Ahmed, the caretaker federal minister for religious affairs, declared on Wednesday that the government would be slashing the cost for the upcoming year’s Hajj by a substantial amount worth Rs0.1 million but not at the cost of impacting the facilities.
The minister, in his address at the Haji camp in Karachi, detailed that the government would also allow baggage allowance of 30kg per individual and women would be given headscarves with Pakistani flag on it.
Moreover, the minister announced the launch of a useful mobile application specifically designed to assist pilgrims. The application would offer navigation support and would establish one-click-away connectivity with relevant officials. It would be beneficial in case of any emergency or for fetching information related to Hajj rituals.
Initially available in English and Urdu, the application will later include support for various regional languages, the minister said.
The minister also explained that the authorities in Saudi Arabia have included Islamabad and Karachi in the ‘Road to Makkah’ project which would streamline immigration processes for Hujjaj.
This is the first time that the government has introduced the 20-day short Hajj package to facilitate those who can’t spend extra time away from Pakistan; the Short Hajj is a bit expensive than the Long Hajj package.
In terms of seat allocation, Pakistan has secured 179,000 Hajj seats, and half of these will be filled by private Hajj operators. The Ministry of Religious Affairs will oversee these operators to ensure pilgrim well-being, with accountability for any issues.
The minister also clarified that the announced Hajj package excludes Qurbani expenses. Additionally, intending pilgrims opting for a shorter stay in Medina will enjoy a further reduction of Rs35,000 in Hajj expenses.
It is to be noted that the government has decided to retain the Sponsorship Scheme for this year as well and overseas Pakistanis can opt for the facility.