ISLAMABAD - The government scheme for Hajj is failing to draw the expected response as the number of applicants for the upcoming pilgrimage is very low.
According to well-placed sources in the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, only 7,000 pilgrims have shown interest from all over the country since the banks started receiving applications.
As far as the Sponsorship Scheme is concerned, the response is equally poor and stats imply that only 400 applications have been received so far against the total quota of over 20,000 seats for the upcoming Hajj under the said scheme, Samaa reported.
The government started receiving applications on November 27th and the process would continue till December 12th. The total number of Hajj seats for Pakistan for this year is around 180,000 and around 90,000 Pakistanis will be able to perform the annual pilgrimage under the government scheme.
If the number of applications is more than the seats, there would be balloting amongst the applicants though there was no balloting last year as the number of pilgrims was already less than the seats.
For this year, the government has also introduced the Short Hajj package which would be done in 20-25 days but would be more expensive than the regular Long Hajj. As far as the Long Hajj is concerned, it would encompass 38-42 days with an 8-day stay in Medinah.
The cost of Short Hajj stands at Rs 1,140, 000 for individuals from the southern region(Burewala, Bhakkar, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Jhang, and Dera Ghazi Khan) and Rs 1,150, 000 for those from the northern areas (Mansehra, Naran, Kaghan, Gilgit, Chilas, Passu, and Karimabad).
As part of the Hajj policy, the government has also permitted women to perform Hajj without the need of a mehram.
As far as the bank account is concerned, those overseas Pakistanis having no bank account can open an Asaan account after arrival in Pakistan so that reimbursement (if any) can be made in case of changes in the cost of Hajj while a bank account is mandatory for those applying through regular Hajj scheme from within Pakistan.
Pakistani currency remained largely stable against US dollar and other currencies in the open market on February 20, 2024 (Tuesday).
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.05 for buying and 282.1 for selling.
On Tuesday, Euro stands at 301 for buying and 304 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 352.4 for buying, and 355.4 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76.55 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.2.
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