Hajj balloting delay perturbs intending pilgrims

Islamabad

The inordinate delay in balloting of remaining Hajj applications has disappointed Hajj aspirants and government has been urged to resolve the dispute with Hajj Group Organisers (HGOs) for smooth implementation of Hajj Policy announced by the government in January.
It may be recalled that the government had already selected 50 percent aspirants of Government Hajj Scehme by holding a balloting earlier this month. The ministry had promised to conduct another balloting for selecting 17 percent more aspirant for performing the sacred religious ceremony under government scheme after settlement of dispute with HGOs, who got stay orders for reducing their share from 40 percent to 33 percent.
Last week, the Islamabad High Court had ordered the ministry to retain quota of HGOs to 40 percent. Thus the ministry should conduct balloting of 10 percent, said Hafiz Abdul Quddus, an aspirant of performing Hajj this year under government scheme. He said due to the unclear policy of the government regarding the Hajj quota, the balloting of remaining 10 percent Hajj application had not been announced so far thus causing disappointment to the applicants and their families.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony will initiate extensive Hajj training programme for intending pilgrims from current month, aimed at familiarizing pilgrims with Manasik Hajj. According to official sources, the pilgrims would be imparted training with the help of models, charts, maps, sketches, lectures and television. The focus of the programme would be the first timers those who were going to perform Hajj rituals first time. The training had been extended from district to tehsil level.
Informative booklets along with CDs would be distributed among the pilgrims free of charge. “The training also covers how to wear `Ahram’ and observe sanctity of the holy places, besides performing Manasik at Madina Munawarrah and manners of offering prayers at Masjid-e-Nabvi and `Salam’ at `Roza-e-Rasool (Peace Be Upon Him).” The official said the ministry also planned to administer seasonal vaccines to protect the intending pilgrims from viral diseases. As per directives of the Saudi authorities, the intending pilgrims would have to carry with them medical certificates of administration of vaccines.—APP

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