ISLAMABAD: The federal government Thursday announced the Haj Policy 2024 reducing the Haj expenses by Rs100,000 as compared to the last year.
Giving salient features of the Haj Policy-2024, Minister for Religious Affairs Aneeq Ahmad said that scheduled banks would receive applications under the regular scheme from November 27 to December 12.
The minister said that along with long-duration Haj package of 38 to 42 days, the government has also decided to introduce short duration package of 20 to 25 days.
He said the Haj cost under the government scheme has been reduced to Rs1,075,000 for the next Haj from Rs1,175,000 of this year’s Haj but assured that there would be no compromise on quality of arrangements regardless of reduction in expenses. However, the government would charge Rs75,000 as extra amount for short duration package. The minister, however, said that Haj expenses for applicants from southern region of the country would be Rs1,065,000 with additional Rs75,000 for short duration package. An amount of Rs60,000 would be received as charges for sacrificial animal.
The Minister for Religious Affairs said the Haj quota for Pakistan is 17,9210 which will be equally distributed between the government and private Haj schemes.
Aneeq Ahmed said negotiations are continuing with the airlines to get reduced airfare for the Haj operation. “If we succeed in securing relief in the airfare, the amount will be transferred to the accounts of pilgrims.” He said the pilgrims would get back Rs35,000 if they choose to stay for four days instead of eight days in Madina.
As a salient feature of the Haj Policy, permission has been granted to women having no Mehram to apply for Haj in the light of recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII). However, such women would have to get permission from their parents or husbands with condition that they would select group having trustworthy people.
Those who have performed Haj in the last five years would not be eligible to submit applications. However, a Mehram accompanying a woman who is performing Haj for the first time and those apply as per sponsorship scheme would be exempted from the same restriction.
Both government’s regular scheme and private would have quota of 89,605 each. From the government scheme, a quota of 25,000 has been fixed for the sponsorship scheme while 50 percent of private scheme would be reserved for sponsorship scheme.
Those applying under sponsorship scheme would have to submit expenses in foreign exchange ($4,015) and they would be accommodated on ‘first come first served’ basis.
Aneeq Ahmad said Haj 2024 will be digitalised wherein pilgrims will get a mobile application that could be used without internet. The app will have many features, including an option to lodge their complaints. He said the pilgrims will be provided with free of cost things including a SIM with seven GB data, a suitcase having QR code, Ihram belts for men, Abaya for women and shoe bags.
The Minister for Religious Affairs said apart from Islamabad airport, Karachi has also been included in Road to Makkah project adding they have requested the Saudi government to include Lahore in the same. Under Road to Makkah project, the Saudi teams carry out immigration, security and customs checks of intending pilgrims before their departure for Saudi Arabia.