ISLAMABAD - The government of Pakistan has decided to extend the deadline for submission of applications under the government Hajj scheme for 2024.
As per the current deadline, applicants were asked to submit applications by Tuesday; however, the minister for religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Aneeq Ahmed has confirmed that the deadline has been extended by 10 days.
Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry started receiving applications for Hajj on Nov. 27; however, the ministry was unable to attract pilgrims in large numbers which was surprising but could be due to economic hardships being faced by the citizens.
The lack of interest by the pilgrims was also confirmed by Religious Ministry spokesperson Muhammad Umer Butt who said only 34,000 applications have been received so far under the government and sponsorship schemes against a quota of 89,605.
“We are extending the duration for Hajj applications by 10 days, both for regular and sponsored applicants,” he was quoted as saying by Arab News.
He confirmed that despite reducing the Hajj package by Rs. 100,000, the ministry had received fewer applications, adding that the ministry was striving to further ease the financial burden on pilgrims by negotiating with airline companies to reduce their airfare.
“Any reduction, whether it’s Rs50,000 ($175.96) or more, will be refunded to the pilgrims,” he said.
This is the first time that the government has also introduced a Short Hajj package spanning over 25 days to facilitate those who can not go to the Long Hajj; the cost of the Short Hajj package is more than the regular Long Hajj.
Meanwhile, the government of Saudi Arabia has allocated around 180,000 seats for Pakistan this year and half of those would be filled by the private hajj operators across the country.
The caretaker minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Aneeq Ahmed had recently announced that the cost of Hajj for 2024 would be reduced by another Rs 50,000 and the amount would be sent back to the bank accounts of the applicants.
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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