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ISLAMABAD: In order to provide relief to the pilgrims, the government has been asked by the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony here on Tuesday to provide a subsidy to reduce Hajj expenses that have ballooned to Rs850,000 per individual.

The committee meeting was chaired by Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri.

It reviewed in detail the increase in the Hajj quota of the new Hajj group organizers of Balochistan province, besides the existing Hajj policy and issues related to Hajj.

The committee was called as an emergency to review the grievances and issues regarding the quota of Hajj group organizers belonging to Balochistan. The chairman committee said that he had also written a letter to the chairman Senate to resolve the issues effectively.

Aftab Durrani, Additional Secretary in-charge, Ministry of Religious Affairs, while briefing the standing committee, said that quotas have been allotted to Hajj group organizers on merit. Hajj policy was approved a bit late this time; however, the government of Saudi Arabia approved quota for Pakistan under which 81,132 pilgrims will be blessed with Hajj, out of which 40 per cent will be blessed under the government scheme and 60 per cent through private operators.

He said that the announcement of Hajj expenses is the most important thing that was done by the Saudi government just two days ago. There are three types of expenses that are determined by the Saudi government, said the DG Hajj and the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

The bulk of the cost is to be borne by the Saudi government, which was agreed on Sunday evening. The Ministry of Religious Affairs has prepared a summary and sent it to the Cabinet for approval. Time was short.

Chairman Committee Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said that many people are complaining that they have obtained license since 2005 but do not get quota. The committee was told that the companies which failed to meet all the legal requirements were not given quota. The quota has been given in accordance with the order of the Supreme Court on the basis of transparency and merit.

In response to a question from the chairman of the committee, it was informed that the current year Hajj expenses would be up to Rs850,000. The government of Pakistan should provide a subsidy for the pilgrims so that the expenses can be significantly reduced and the pilgrims can be benefited.

Tuesday’s meeting of the Standing Committee was attended by Senators Gardeep Singh, Haji Hidayatullah and Maulvi Faiz Mohammad besides senior officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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