ISLAMABAD – The Saudi government has agreed to Pakistan’s request to give an equal number of slots to all private Hajj tour operators for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage.
Earlier, it was reported that the Saudi authorities had reduced the number of private Hajj operators from Pakistan from 905 to 46, a move that had irked the private tour operators.
The matter was taken up with the authorities and it has been agreed that all the private tour operators would be given a quota to facilitate the pilgrims.
This year, the Saudi government has reinstated Pakistan’s original Hajj quota of 179,210 and they’ve removed the previous age limit of 65 for pilgrimage. Around 90,000 Pakistani pilgrims are anticipated to participate through the government program, while an equal number will choose private tour operators for this religious duty.
With the latest move, there will be 180 groups of pilgrims, each with 500 members and as per the arrangement, each private Hajj operator would be allowed to serve 100 members, Express Tribune reported.
A few weeks ago, Caretaker Minister for Religious Affairs Aneeq Ahmad disclosed Pakistan’s Hajj Policy 2024 and announced to slash the cost of Hajj by an amount of Rs 100, 000 under the government’s policy for this year.
This decision to allocate equal quotas may strengthen the relationship between private Hajj operators and regulatory authorities, contributing to a more collaborative and supportive industry environment.
As far as the details are concerned, the government has also introduced a short Hajj package, ensuring completion within a maximum of 25 days. Priced at Rs 80, 000 more than the Long Hajj package, the cost stands at Rs 1,140, 000 for individuals from the southern region (Burewala, Bhakkar, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Jhang, and Dera Ghazi Khan) and Rs 1,150, 000 for those from the northern areas (Mansehra, Naran, Kaghan, Gilgit, Chilas, Passu and Karimabad).
For the Long Hajj package, pilgrims will have an extended journey lasting up to 42 days, with eight of those days spent in Medinah. Departing from southern parts like Karachi, Quetta, and Sukkur, the cost of this experience is Rs 1,065,000. For those departing from the northern parts (Mansehra, Naran, Kaghan, Gilgit, Chilas, Passu, and Karimabad) the cost is slightly higher at Rs 1,075, 000.
The federal government has also announced the continuation of the Sponsorship Scheme under which overseas Pakistanis can perform Hajj expected to take place from June 26, 2024, to July 1, 2024.
Hajj, a central pillar of Islam, is an annual pilgrimage to Mecca that every adult Muslim is obligated to undertake at least once in their lifetime, provided they are physically and financially able.