Wing established at MRA&IH to verify Umra agreements

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Banks bared from receiving Hajj applications sans policy approval

Islamabad—The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony (MRA&IH) has restricted the schedule banks from receiving Hajj applications prior to the approval of Hajj policy 2016. An official of the ministry told APP that the draft hajj policy has been sent to Prime Minister secretariat for approval and nothing including hajj package is final right now.
Banks must avoid receiving applications before the announcement of the policy. He said the ministry has received complaints from across the country that some banks have started receiving Hajj applications from intending pilgrims without announcement of Hajj policy 2016.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony has established a separate wing to verify Umra agreements inked between Zaireen and Umra operators. Spokesman Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noor Zaman Tuesday told APP that 600 companies have been registered with the ministry for conducting Umra operations.
He said the names of authorised Umra operators would soon be placed at the website of the ministry for information of the general public. He said Saudi Arabia has recently registered 50 Saudi companies for Umra operations. The Saudi companies have appointed various Umra companies of different countries including Pakistan as their sub agents, who will ink Umra agreements with Zaireen on behalf of Saudi companies. The ministry has been authorised to verify that agreement inked between Zaireen and Umra companies.
Only licenced/registered Umra operators would be authorised to bring Umra Zaireen to Saudi Arabia. Umra zaireen will have to get permission from the ministry before leaving to Saudi Arabia, he said. The main aim of regulating Umra operation is to ensure timely return of Zaireen to Pakistan after performing the sacred religious obligation. It is reported that scores of Umra zaireen do not return country after completing their stay and return to country after performing Umra.
Only licenced operators will be responsible for carrying people to Saudi Arabia for performing Umra.He said Ministry has sent a draft bill to regulate Umra operations. Ministry wanted to devise Umra policy in line with Hajj policy. Ministry will ensure providing maximum facilities to faithful at reasonable packages.—APP

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