143,368 Pakistani Hujjaj to perform Hajj this year

ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday announced Hajj policy for year 2014 under which 143,368 Hujjaj will perform Hajj this year.

Addressing a press conference here, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Sardar Muhammad Yousaf said that the original Hajj quota of 179,210 allocated to Pakistan for year 2012 was reduced by 20% last year due to expansion plan of Haram Sharif and was accordingly fixed as 143,368.

He said that the Hajj scheme, 2014 will be implemented through government scheme and private Hajj group organizers (HGOs) in the ratio of 50 percent each.

He said the ministry would allocate a quota of 15,000 pilgrims of government scheme to private scheme on prorate basis to HGOs functional in Hajj 2013 as per MOU concluded between Ministry and Hajj Group Organizers Association of Pakistan (HOAP).

The minister said that the applications for Hajj-2014 under Government Hajj Scheme will be received on the principle of “First come, First serve”.

He said that the applications under Government scheme will be invited through designated banks from April, 21 and there will be no free Hajj as per practice.

He said that the Hajj package under the Government Hajj Scheme from south region (Karachi, Quetta and Sukkar) will be Rs 262,231 and north region (Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Faisalabad and Sialkot) will be Rs 272,231 as compared to Rs. 285,070 (south) and Rs. 295,070 (north) of white category of last year.

He said an additional amount of Rs. 14,500 will be required from those applicants who opt to perform their qurabni through Islamic Development Bank.

He said that any person who has performed Hajj during the last five years will not be eligible to perform Hajj in 2014 except Mehram or the one undertaking Haj-e-badal.

He said under the Government Hajj Scheme, shared accommodation at 4 Sq. meters per haji as per Saudi Taleemat, with a rental ceiling of SR.3000/- per pilgrim will be provided.

He said the rent in Makkah Mukarramah will be charged on actual basis while in case of Madinah Munawwarah, it will be charged at a flat rate of SR.500 per pilgrim.

He said 5% of the total seats under Government scheme will be reserved for hardship cases and for pilgrims recommended and funded by charitable institutions, labour/low paid employees of different public sector organizations/ corporate entities under the concept of corporate social responsibility, etc.

He said each applicant would be required to undertake at the time of submitting Hajj application that before departure he or she will arrange minimum personal exchange quota (PEQ) of SR. 1500 on his/her own, to meet personal and qurbani expenditure in Saudi Arabia.

He said that Hujjaj will be airlifted by designated air carriers as per revised Air Service Agreement (ASA) between Government of Pakistan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The airline will charge Rs. 97,700 from south region and Rs. 107,700 from north region inclusive of all taxes.

The minister said that fifty percent of Government Scheme hujjaj will be transported/airlifted directly to Madina from Pakistan and vice versa.

He said that for Hajj 2014, the allocation of service business to HGOs functional in 2013 will remain unchanged. However, any company blacklisted by Saudi Government will not be entitled for operation in Hajj 2014.

Further, any company penalized by the Ministry on account of its adverse performance in Hajj 2013 would be reviewed for allocation of its service business as deemed appropriate, he added.

Sardar Yousaf said after the finalization of verification and scrutiny process, the ministry would consider allocation of appropriate quota to the enrolled companies strictly in accordance with the merit determined in the light of the assessment/reassessment undertaken by chartered accountant firms, subject to its availability or as and when quota enhanced by the Saudi Government.

He said that for the welfare services during Hajj-2014, Hajj Medical Mission comprising 450 personnel, 300 Moavineen-i-Hujjaj, 270 seasonal duty staff and 400 Local Khuddam ul Hujjaj in Saudi Arabia will be deputed subject to availability of resources.

The minister said that a comprehensive awareness campaign for education and training of the intending pilgrims will be launched.

He said that Hujjaj Mohafiz Scheme based on the concept of “Takaful” will be continued in Hajj Policy-2014. He added death compensation has been enhanced from Rs 300,000 to Rs 5Reuters

He said monitoring and supervision mechanism for Hajj operation in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will be strengthened.