Banks start receiving applications for next year's Haj

3 months ago 42
Worshippers pray around the Khana-e-Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on the first day of Eid ul Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, on April 21, 2023. — AFP Worshippers pray around the Khana-e-Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on the first day of Eid ul Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, on April 21, 2023. — AFP

Registration for the Haj 2024 under the government’s scheme has commenced and will continue till December 12, the Ministry of Religious Affairs announced on Monday.

A spokesperson for the ministry said applications for next year's Haj are being received by the designated banks, according to the state-run Radio Pakistan.

The applications can be submitted on a passport valid till December 16, 2024, and the Haj application can also be processed on a passport application token.

The spokesperson said about 89,605 Pakistanis will perform Haj under the government scheme next year.

Balloting will be conducted if more than the prescribed number of applications are received.

For the first time, women will have the opportunity to undertake the sacred journey without the traditional requirement of a male companion.

Under the sponsorship scheme, 25,000 seats will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Last week, caretaker Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Dr Aneeq Ahmed announced a significant reduction of Rs0.1 million in government Haj expenses while ensuring “uncompromised facilities”.

Emphasising improvements in the Haj process, Dr Ahmed revealed that Islamabad and Karachi have been incorporated into Saudi Arabia's Road to Makkah project.

This inclusion allows Karachi airport to complete the immigration process for pilgrims, streamlining their journey.

Moreover, the government had also introduced a 20-day short Haj package, striving to make Haj more financially accessible to citizens.

Highlighting the allocation of Haj seats, Dr Ahmed mentioned that Pakistan has secured 179,000 Haj seats, with half reserved for private Haj operators.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs will oversee these operators to guarantee the well-being of pilgrims, holding the ministry responsible for any issues faced by those performing Haj through private operators.

Regarding expenses, Dr Ahmed clarified that the announced package excludes qurbani (sacrifice) expenses during the Haj.

Additionally, intending pilgrims opting for a shorter stay in Medina will receive a further reduction of Rs 35,000 in Haj expenses.