ISLAMABAD – In a pleasantly surprising move, the authorities in Pakistan have confirmed that under next year's Hajj policy, women would be able to perform Hajj without a male guardian (Mehram).
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony confirmed the development on Friday, adding that the Hajj policy 2024 would be announced in the next two weeks.
The ministry elaborated that the federal cabinet will approve the Hajj policy within 10 days after which the ministry would discuss the collection of applications for next year's Hajj, ARY News reported.
A few days earlier, Caretaker Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Aneeq Ahmed had also confirmed that the Road to Makkah project would also include Karachi for next year's Hajj which means that the pilgrims would be able to clear the immigration facilities in Pakistan without waiting in queues in the holy land.
Pakistan has introduced multiple changes to the Hajj process this year including the introduction of short-term hajj which would last for 18-20 days.
Normally, the package, which is offered to pilgrims, is 35 to 50 days long and it includes accommodation, transportation, and foot.
The announcement for the short-term Hajj comes as the rupee devaluation increased the Hajj cost this year. It was primarily the reason the applications received for Hajj 2023 were below the quota allocated by Saudi Arabia.
It bears mentioning that the former religious affairs minister, Talha Mehmood had said that the country would collect the fee for Hajj for 2024 in US Dollars though no confirmation is available for the said announcement as of now.
Pakistani currency remains largely stable against US dollar and other currencies in the open market on February 24, 2024.
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.5 for buying and 282.55 for selling.
On Saturday, Euro stands at 302 for buying and 305 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 352.5 for buying, and 356 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76.1 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.35.
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