Govt hints at "good news" of lower hajj costs

Ministry for Religious Affairs says an announcement is expected to be made in the next two to three days

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Mufti Abdul Shakoor on Monday said that he will share “good news” for Hajj hopefuls within two to three days, hinting that the news could be about the expected costs of the pilgrimage.

Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony had Sunday had held balloting to select successful candidates from amongst the 63,604 people who had applied.

The ministry ended up selecting 31,253 pilgrims for performing the hajj this year on the Government Hajj Scheme. Regarding the hajj expenses, which the government has yet to share with the hopefuls, the minister said he would share ‘good news’ within two to three days.

“From day one, I have aimed to provide relief to the people and reduce the cost of the hajj which had ballooned because of the incompetence of the former PTI government,” he tweeted.

The minister added that his last visit to Saudi Arabia was quite successful and had managed to reduce the cost of the government Hajj package by a few hundred thousand rupees, with further details to be revealed in a news conference after the cabinet meeting.

This year only 63,604 people submitted applications under the government Hajj scheme. The number is significantly lower than the 116,683 applications which had been submitted in 2019. In 2020 and 2021 pilgrims from Pakistan and other countries could not perform Hajj due to coronavirus-related restrictions. Only people living in Saudi Arabia were allowed to perform Hajj.

Those who have been selected for the hajj have been notified via SMS on their listed phone numbers and will have to complete all health requirements listed by Saudi authorities including Covid-19 vaccination and booster jabs along with a PCR test taken at least 72 hours before departing for Saudi Arabia.



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