Government has decided to restore quota of members of parliament in Government Hajj Scheme. PTI led government in a major policy reversal has made changes in the Hajj policy 2020 thus dispensing a quota of 2000 people who would go for Hajj on the recommendation of members of parliament.
Hajj quota for the MPs had been abolished by the then government of PPP back in 2009 in an attempt to provide an equal opportunity to all the aspiring candidates. But it is being restored by the PTI government despite the fact that it has been advocating meritocracy throughout.
As many as 2000 pilgrims will proceed to Saudi Arabia for the performance of Hajj on the recommendation of members of parliament. Hajj policy for 2020 has been evolved which will be presented before cabinet meeting for approval.
— Times of lsIamabad (@TimesofIslambad) January 17, 2020
According to available documents,179,210 Pakistanis will fly to Saudi Arabia for performing Hajj in 2020. Forty percent Hajj quota will be allocated for Private Hajj Scheme while those who have failed in HAJJ balloting during the last three years, will be selected to perform Hajj without balloting. 1000 Hajj quota has been allocated for overseas Pakistanis. 1.5 percent hardship quota has been allocated out of government Hajj scheme.
Besides that, the cost of Hajj has been increased to Rs 550,000, about Rs 130,000 more than the cost in 2019. The increase in the Cost is a result of the depreciation of the Rupee in the international market and the rising fares of the air companies, the Secretary concerned has apprised the standing committee on religious affairs.
The ministry of religious affairs has issued the guidelines for performing Hajj. The presence of a mahram – a male blood relative – will be mandatory for female applicants. Furthermore, Each Hajji will be entitled to bring only one bottle of five-litre of the sacred water (Aab-e-Zam Zam) from Saudi Arabia.
Discussions are underway between the Saudi authorities and the government of Pakistan to also include Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta airports in the Road to Makkah project. In addition to that, the talks also include a request for the increase in the Hajj quota for Pakistan. Positive outcomes are expected to result from these talks.