Govt announces Hajj Policy 2015: Applications to be received from April 27

ISLAMABAD: The government announced the Hajj Policy 2015 on Friday, under which 143,368 Pakistanis will perform the upcoming Hajj this year.

Announcing the Hajj policy at a news conference in Islamabad today, Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf said the government and private Hajj group organisers will operate on a 50-50 quota.

The minister said that banks will accept applications from Monday, April 27 till May 8.

Balloting will be conducted this year to select the successful applicants as against last year’s policy of first come first served basis.

The policy also states that applications can be submitted with the specified branches of 10 different banks.

It goes on to say that anyone who has performed Hajj during the last five years will not be eligible to perform pilgrimage this year except for those people who will be going as ‘Mehram’ or the ones performing ‘Hajj-e-Badal’.

Yousaf said the government has reduced the Hajj package for the North region that includes Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by Rs. 7262, from Rs. 2,72,231 to Rs. 2,64,971. The package for South Region that includes areas of Sindh and Balochistan has been cut by Rs. 6260 from Rs. 2,62,231 to Rs. 2,55,971.

The Hujjaj who opt to perform their Qurbani through government scheme will have to pay additional Rs. 14,210.

Under the government scheme, the Hujjaj will be provided food in Mecca, Madina and Mina as per the practice of last year.

Yousaf further said the airfare has been reduced to Rs. 98,700 from Rs. 107,700 for the North Zone while the airfare for South Zone has been cut to Rs. 89,700 from Rs. 97,700 rupees. He made it clear that there will be no free Hajj this year as per the past tradition.

Machine readable passports, computerised national identity cards and medical certificates have been made mandatory for the Hujjaj.

Yousaf went on to say that under the government scheme, 50 percent intending pilgrims will be airlifted directly to Madina and 50 percent to Jeddah.

He said no new Hajj group organisers will be given quota this year.

The minister said elaborate arrangements will be made to facilitate the Hujjaj in Saudi Arabia. In this connection, a medical mission of 450 people will be sent to the holy land.

He said transport facility will be provided to the Hujjaj round the clock, and they will be accommodated at one place as different categories of accommodation have been abolished.

Yousaf also said that the Hajj operation monitoring system has been strengthened. The complaints of the Hujjaj will be listened to and addressed through call centers, emails and special monitoring teams.

He said the Hujjaj will be provided with five liters of Zam Zam at Pakistani airports on their return from the pilgrimage.