Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr Noorul Haq Qadri conducted the balloting process for the selection of pilgrims for Hajj and announced that 107,526 applicants had been selected for the religious obligation under the government scheme this year.
Addressing a news conference, the minister said that the successful applicants will be informed of the decision through SMS while they can also check the ballot results on the ministry's website www.hajjinfo.org by entering either their CNIC number or the Hajj application number.
A total of 184, 210 candidates will go for Hajj this year of which 107,526 will perform the religious pilgrimage under the government scheme and 71,684 under the private tour operators.
From the total quota of 107,526 pilgrims in the government Hajj scheme, a total of 2,238 spaces were allotted to the aspiring pilgrims who are 80-years or older, 12,251 to those who have been unsuccessful in the Hajj ballot for three consecutive years in the past, 1,613 were reserved for the hardship quota and 500 for the labour quota.
The remaining 90,924 were selected through the general ballot.
For this year, the largest number of applications for the government scheme came from Punjab with 100,806 applications. A total of 49,343 applications were received from Sindh, 40,752 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 10,258 from Balochistan, 6,412 from Islamabad Capital Territory, 2,316 from Azad Kashmir, 4,314 from erstwhile Fata, and 2,422 from Gilgit-Baltistan.
Dr Qadri said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had accepted Prime Minister Imran Khan's request to include Pakistani pilgrims in the Kingdom's "Road to Makkah" project under which they will be provided Customs Clearance and Immigration facility at Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, and Peshawar airports.
The minister also stated that the Saudi foreign minister had promised an additional quota of 16,000 pilgrims for Pakistan. He declared the government would also give new quota of 5,000 to private Hajj operators.
The federal cabinet had announced the policy on January 31, according to which the cost of performing the ritual under the government scheme has been fixed at Rs456,426 (with sacrifice), against last year’s expense of Rs280,000 per person.
Under the government scheme, Hajj dues excluding sacrifice will be Rs436,975 for the northern region of the country including Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Multan and Rahim Yar Khan, while the cost for the south region including Karachi, Quetta and Sukkur will be Rs426,975.