Hajj policy-2011 announced

The Federal Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Hajj policy for the year-2011 under which around 180,000 pilgrims will perform the religious obligation in Saudi Arabia.

The pilgrims will be sent to the Holy Land under the government and private schemes for which the Ministry of Religious Affairs will receive applications from April 15 to May 10.

Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah announced the approval of policy, which will be applicable for three years, at a press conference at the PM Secretariat here.

He was flanked by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Secretary Religious Affairs Shaukat Hayat Durrani and Information Secretary Taimur Azmat Osman.

He said that 5,000 designated bank branches would receive the applications and media would be kept informed on daily basis about the number of applicants. “I will also pay surprise visits to the bank branches to ensure transparency,” the minister said.

“Out of the total allocation, 50 per cent will be allocated to the government Hajj scheme and 50 percent to private scheme,” he said.

This year, the minister said, there would be no balloting for Hajj as the applicants would be selected on “first-come and first- served” basis to ensure transparency in the entire process.

He said that the applicants, who had been unsuccessful in 2010 Hajj-balloting under the government scheme, would be declared successful, if they had not withdrawn their deposited amounts.

He said the Ministry was launching a pilgrim protection scheme under which each Haji would be required to contribute Rs. 400 non- refundable premium. “a sum of Rs 200,000 will be paid from the fund in case of death during the pilgrimage, Rs 50,000 for the loss of a limb in an accident, Rs 100,000 for loss of two limbs and Rs 50,000 for emergency evacuation due to illness,” the minister said.