ISLAMABAD - The government of Saudi Arabia has confirmed that there will be no reduction in the number of private Hajj operators from Pakistan.
Earlier, it was confirmed that the Saudi authorities would reduce the number of operators from 905 to only 46, worrying the operators who were anxious about their business interests.
It has now been confirmed after high-level engagement by the Pakistani side that there will be no reduction and each private Hajj operator will be allowed to serve the pilgrims. Statistically, around 90,000 Pakistani pilgrims are expected to participate in Hajj through private operators.
Under the new scheme for private Hajj operators, there will be a total of 180 groups of pilgrims, each comprising 500 people; every private Hajj operator will now be permitted to facilitate 100 pilgrims, resulting in each group being comprised of pilgrims utilizing services from five different operators, Express Tribune reported.
The federal government has decided to reduce the cost of the upcoming Hajj as Muslims from across the country desperately wait to submit applications. Caretaker Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Aneeq Ahmed announced a significant reduction of One lac rupees in government Hajj expenses.
Talking to newsmen, the minister highlighted that pilgrims will now be allowed to bring along a 30kg suitcase each, and female pilgrims will receive scarves (Abaya) bearing the national flag.
The minister also highlighted the utility of the mobile application designed by Pakistan to assist pilgrims through navigation support and constant communication between pilgrims and relevant Pakistani officials.
The caretaker minister explained that Islamabad and Karachi have been integrated into Saudi Arabia’s Road to Makkah project which makes it easier for pilgrims to complete immigration formalities in Pakistan.
Aneeq Ahmed also announced that Pakistan has been allocated 179,000 Hajj seats, half of whom would be filled by private Hajj operators though the ministry would keep a check on these operators to ensure the well-being of pilgrims.
It bears mentioning that the government has announced to start accepting applications for Hajj from November 27th and the process would continue till December 12th. This is the first time that the government has introduced the Short Hajj package under which pilgrims would be able to complete Hajj in 20-25 days.
As far as the Long Hajj is concerned, it would encompass 38-42 days with an 8-day stay in Medinah; the government has already clarified that the Short Hajj Package is more expensive than the Long Hajj package.
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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