800 unutilise seats returned to save $24 million
For the first time in Pakistan’s history, Pakistan has surrendered the quota allotted to the country by Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrims as applications fell short of the available seats.
The religious affairs ministry has confirmed that the eight thousand government scheme quota has been returned. The sources in the ministry informed that the move was aimed to save 24 million dollars as the government would have to pay this additional amount for accommodation.
The federal government had earlier announced that there would be no balloting for the Hajj applicants as the authorities could see that there would be a shortage of applicants.
This historic change shows the drastic impacts of inflation in the country.
It had been the government’s long-standing demand to increase the quota but Pakistan failed to meet the allotted quota. This year, Pakistan was given full share for the pilgrimage after a long time.
The report said the government also considered to allocate the unused Hajj quota to the private Hajj operators. However, because of the fear that private operators might buy dollars from open market, it planned to surrender the unutilised quota.