No priority to unsuccessful Hajj applicants: Yousaf

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Islamabad

Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousaf Friday informed the National Assembly that currently no proposal was under consideration to give priority to those Hajj applications who remained continuously unsuccessful during the last few years.
Responding to a question during Question Hour, the minister said the ministry would place the proposal before Hajj Policy Formulation Committee, constituted by Supreme Court of Pakistan for consideration for Hajj-2018.
The minister said the ministry had been receiving a large number of applicants for Hajj under government scheme since 2014. Giving the breakup, the minister said some 127,000 applications were received in 2014 against quota of 57,000 hujjaj and 270,000 applications in 2015 against quota of 71,000 hujjaj while 338,696 applications were received for 2017 Hajj.
He said balloting process was introduced due to receiving of large number of applications under the government scheme. He said first come first serve scheme was abandoned due to problems being faced by the people of remote areas.
There were many lacuna in the ‘first come first serve scheme’ and influential always used to manipulate the process, he said.
Meanwhile State Minister for Industries and Production Sardar Arshad Khan Laghari told the House that Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) was providing assistance to women in Balochistan for promotion of their handicrafts. He said SMEDA was also running a programme for youth.
Meanwhile, it is reported that the Shaheen Air International (SAI) has completed its post-Hajj operations, an official of the airline said here on Friday. During this period, the airline flew around 49,000 pilgrims from Jeddah and Madinah to various cities across Pakistan.
The post-Hajj operation had earlier started on September 6, it was further pointed out.
A total of 111 flights from Jeddah brought back 25,148 pilgrims to Pakistan via 16 flights to Islamabad, 32 to Karachi, 14 to Lahore, 16 to Peshawar, 14 to Quetta, 18 to Faisalabad and a flight to Multan. Whereas, 23,018 pilgrims were flown from Madinah via 95 flights, of which 14 flew to Islamabad, 22 to Karachi, 15 to Lahore, 13 to Peshawar, 18 to Quetta, 12 to Faisalabad, and 1 to Multan.
While commenting on the completion of a successful Hajj operation, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, Zohaib Hassan remarked that it was is an honour for Shaheen Air to be able to transport pilgrims for Hajj.
‘We operated these dedicated flights to facilitate pilgrims from Pakistan as they made this auspicious journey to the holy land of Saudi Arabia. With this spirit, we recommit ourselves to serving our nation with exemplary standards of hospitality and service which is a benchmark in the local aviation industry’, he added.—APP