ISLAMABAD: As many as 143,368 people will go to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj this year and applications for the purpose would be received from April 15 to 23, according to the Hajj Policy 2015.
Officials from Ministry of Religious Affairs told the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Religious Affairs that 50 percent of the pilgrims will perform pilgrimage through government apparatus while the rest will perform Hajj through private operators. The pilgrims will be picked through a lucky draw and the list of successful candidates will be displayed on April 28.
The cost of living per person, according to policy, will be 600 Saudi riyals in Madina and 3,000 Saudi riyals in Makkah. The cost of Hajj has been reduced by Rs 17,000 as compared to the last year. The committee said that the government should try to provide maximum facilities to the people going to perform Hajj and keep a close watch on the private tour operators to facilitate the pilgrims.
The Hajj policy bars all those from performing Hajj this year who have already performed the Hajj in the last five years, the committee was told. ‘First come, first served’ scheme has been abolished while all the successful candidates would be announced through balloting, the policy says. There will be no free Hajj this year as per practice in vogue in the past. The original Hajj quota of 179,210 allocated to Pakistan has been reduced by 20 percent due to expansion of Haram Sharif and has been revised to 143,368 people. Each candidate will have to pay Rs 255,271 to perform Hajj this year.
International machine readable passport, NADRA identity card and medical certificates would be mandatory for all the candidates, the policy said.
The committee was informed that it has been proposed that there would be a Parliamentary Hajj Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of Minister for Religious Affairs to advise on work plan, policy, planning and management of Hajj operation 2015 in Pakistan as well as in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The parliamentary committee would also suggest measures for improvement of welfare services for the pilgrims, besides overseeing the hiring process and inspection of the buildings hired by the hiring committee.
The standing committee also discussed “The Education of the Holy Quran according to Recitation by Sighting and with Translation, Learning by Heart and with Correct Pronunciation Bill, 2015”.