Pakistan decides to return Hajj quota as huge cost deprives people of performing pilgrimage


ISLAMABAD – The mounting economic crisis in Pakistan has hampered the annual Islamic pilgrimage as exorbitant costs have deprived people of the South Asian nation of fulfilling their religious obligation.

People’s inability to perform Hajj this year now prompted the government to return quota of Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia due to a shortfall of applications because of soaring inflation.

Kingdom increased Hajj quota for this year for South Asian country and nearly half quota for pilgrimage was available but unprecedented inflation stopped people from applying for Hajj.

Meanwhile, the final decision to surrender the Hajj quota will be made by the federal cabinet. Some reports also claimed that the authorities considering official Hajj quota to the private operators in the wake of low turnout for the state-run scheme.

In comparison to previous years, the expense of Hajj was around Rs1.2 million, which was not able to afford for many people who decided against deferring the plan for next year.

Amid the dollar crunch, the government makes desperate attempts as the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony even allocate a special quota for the Hajj pilgrims who will pay in USD.

Data shared by the government suggest that at least 72,869 applicants applied under the regular scheme and only 8,000 applications were received under the sponsorship scheme.

Hajj flight operations from Pakistan

Pakistan is to start the Hajj flight operation as the first batch of pilgrims will take off from the country’s federal capital on May 20.

Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood briefed that the first Hajj flight would take off in the third week of May. Briefing the minister and other officials, the Secretary of Religious Affairs informed that the Hajj fight operation would be concluded after mid-June.

As per the procedure, the biometrics of pilgrims would be completed by coming Friday (April 28), as the ministry had sought valid passports of pilgrims till the same date.

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