The Federal Cabinet on Wednesday gave its unanimous approval to the Hajj Policy and Plan 2012.
“After the signing of the bilateral annual agreement between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the Hajj Policy 2011 has been reviewed and modified after in-depth analysis and consultation with all stakeholders through Hajj workshops at Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Quetta,” stated Minister for Information & Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira during a joint press conference along with Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khursheed Shah at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat.
While giving details of the Hajj policy, Syed Khursheed Shah said the Hajj quota for 2012 will remain 179,210 and Hajj scheme-2012 shall be implemented through the Government Scheme and Private Hajj Group Organisers (HGOs) according to a 50:50 ratio.
He said that applications under the Government Hajj Scheme shall be received on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Shah added that the aforementioned applications will be invited through designated banks and intending pilgrims may apply in a group of 10-25 through a group leader.
Any person who has performed Hajj during the last five years will not be eligible to perform Hajj in 2012 except for group leaders, those qualifying as ‘mehram’, or those undertaking Hajj-e-Badal.
Under the Government Hajj Scheme, three categories of accommodation will be arranged by the Pakistan Hajj Mission in Jeddah. These are the Blue category – within 900 meters without transport and a rental ceiling of Saudi Riyals (SR) 7500 – the Green category – within 2000 meters with transport and a SR5000 rental ceiling – and the White Category – beyond 2000 meters with transport and a SR3600 rental ceiling.
Pilgrims will not be required to pay any Personal Exchange Quota under the Government scheme.
Khursheed Shah further said that pilgrims will be airlifted by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Shaheen Air International, Saudi Airlines and Nas Air. He added that airfare for Hajj-2012, finalised with PIA, will be Rs73,000 for the southern region and Rs85,000 for the northern region.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2012.