The federal cabinet has approved the Hajj policy for 2019 rejecting the Islamic council’s recommendations for a subsidy for pilgrims.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs had put forward a recommendation of a subsidy of Rs. 45,000 per pilgrim, however, this was rejected by the other ministers.
Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri walked out of meeting in protest when the subsidy was not approved. A news conference in which he was scheduled to announce the Haj policy was postponed.
“Those who are financially able should perform Haj, those who are unable should not go.”Federal cabinet members
According to sources, some members of the cabinet were against the proposed subsidy saying, “Those who are financially able should perform Haj, those who are unable should not go.”
It is worth noting that because of the rupee’s devaluation the cost of going for Haj was increased drastically. Last year, the cost of Haj for residents in the north zone of the country was Rs. 280,000, while it was Rs. 270,000 in the south zone.
The expenses for Haj this year will be Rs. 436,975 for the north zone, and Rs. 427,975 for the south zone.
During the meeting, the cabinet was informed that 184,210 Pakistanis will perform Hajj this year. The application process will commence on 20 February with 60 percent of the quota given to the government while the rest would be with private operators.
People over 80 years of age will be included in the program without having to enter a draw. Those who have been unable to get a Haj seat in the draw for 3 consecutive years will also be given this facility. This year, 10,000 seats have been reserved for senior citizens.
Pilgrims travelling for Haj will also be required to carry at least 2000 Riyals.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry stated in a press conference that this year Haj flights will also depart from Quetta while a special Haj camp will be held in Gilgit.
Mr. Chaudhry said that biometric services will now be provided to people in far-flung areas so they do not have to travel to the main cities to fulfil this Haj application requirement.