ISLAMABAD - The caretaker minister for religious affairs and interfaith harmony, Aneeq Ahmed has announced the details regarding the Hajj policy for the pilgrims to perform the religious ritual.
In a press conference, the minister highlighted that the cost of Hajj for the upcoming year would be Rs 10,75,000 as compared to the price for the last year which was Rs 11,75,000 for government scheme.
Detailing the salient features of the new Hajj policy in Islamabad on Thursday, the minister said there will be no compromise on the quality of Hajj arrangements regardless of the reduction in expenses.
Aneeq revealed that the Hajj quota for Pakistan is 1,79,210 which will be equally distributed between the government and private Hajj scheme applicants.
Aneeq Ahmed said negotiations are underway with the airlines to get reduced airfare for the Hajj operation, adding that if the negotiations are successful, the amount will be transferred to the accounts of pilgrims.
The pilgrims will also get back thirty-five thousand rupees if they choose to stay four instead of eight days in Madina, the minister said.
The minister said Hajj 2024 will be digitalized and pilgrims will get a mobile application that can be used without Internet with the facility to lodge complaints.
Aneeq Ahmed said pilgrims will be provided with many free-of-cost facilities including a SIM with seven GB data, a suitcase having QR code, Ihram belts for men, Abaya for women and shoe bags.
As far as the timelines are concerned, the minister said Hajj applications will be received from the 27th of this month and this process will continue till the 12th of December.
The Minister for Religious Affairs said apart from Islamabad airport, Karachi has also been included in the Road to Makkah project, adding that Saudi Arabia has been requested to include Lahore in the scheme also.
Road to Makkah Project
The 'Road to Makkah' initiative is part of Saudi Arabia’s Guests of God Service Program, which King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud inaugurated in 2019 under Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030. The agreement is renewed every year with countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, and Bangladesh.
As per the initiative, Hajj pilgrims are issued visas and provided other services, such as baggage facilities, at their respective countries’ airports. Not only that, the pilgrims move directly to buses to take them to their places of residence in Makkah and Madina while their luggage is delivered to them; it saves pilgrims from many hassles upon arriving in Saudi Arabia.
The agreement was renewed in May as Saudi Arabia’s deputy interior minister, Dr. Nasser bin Abdul Aziz Al-Dawood arrived in Pakistan and met then-interior minister Rana Sanaullah.
Pakistani rupee remains largely stable against USD and other currencies in the open market on March 3, 2024 (Sunday).
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.3 for buying and 282.45 for selling.
Euro currently stands at 302.5 for buying and 305.5 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 354 for buying, and 359 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76.3 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.5.
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