The government of Pakistan is considering inviting applications ahead of the regular schedule for next year’s Hajj, it emerged on Saturday.
Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony confirmed in a social media post that the government was mulling inviting early applications for next year’s Hajj pilgrimage as well as the payment of dues in installments.
The proposal came up as the officials of the ministry briefed the caretaker religious affairs minister Aneeq Ahmed about this year’s Hajj arrangements on Saturday.
The ministry also confirmed on its social media platform that the authorities are trying to bring a long-term Hajj policy.
It bears mentioning that Pakistan recently completed the Hajj operation under the command of Talha Mehmood, the former religious affairs minister.
For this year’s Hajj, a 50 percent quota had been reserved for the Sponsorship Scheme which was a special facility given to Hajj pilgrims seeking foreign exchange from abroad in the specific dollar account of the religious affairs ministry.
The government had set Hajj expenses at Rs1.175 million per pilgrim, 68% more than the last year’s expenses which apparently became a reason for many Muslims to avoid performing the ritual amid skyrocketing inflation.
It is noteworthy that this was the first time Saudi Arabia welcomed pilgrims in large numbers i.e. around 2.3m after the pandemic restrictions were lifted. Around one million people joined the 2022 Hajj season and only those in the age bracket 18 to 65 who were fully vaccinated or immunized against the virus and did not suffer from chronic diseases were allowed to visit the kingdom.
Earlier in July, then Minister for Religious Affairs Talha Mehmood announced that all the intending pilgrims who will go for Hajj in 2024 will have to pay their expenses in US dollars instead of Pakistani rupee though no development has been made in this regard by the religious affairs ministry.
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