Pakistan's Hajj quota officially increased to 200,000

Religious affairs minister Qadri performs balloting for additional quota in Islamabad

Saudi Arabia announced additional 16,000 quota for Pakistani pilgrims on the request of Prime Minister Imran Khan. PHOTO: FILE

Pakistan's Hajj quota was officially increased to 2,00,000 on Monday as the government conducted a second round of balloting for intending pilgrims.

The increase in quota from 184,210 comes on Prime Minister Imran Khan's request to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman during his February visit to Saudi Arabia.

Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr Noorul Haq Qadri performed the balloting for the additional quota in Islamabad.

According to a ministry spokesperson, 40 per cent of the additional quota was to be allocated to private Hajj operators.

Intending pilgrims who remained unsuccessful in the first phase were eligible for the balloting and those who had withdrawn money from banks received another chance of being selected.

Pakistan’s Hajj quota increased to 200,000

The spokesperson said successful applicants would be informed through SMS and those who had withdrawn their Hajj dues would be given time to again deposit the sum.

Saudi Arabia has also included Pakistan in its “Road to Makkah” project, which will allow pilgrims to undergo immigration clearance at Pakistani airports before leaving for Hajj.

Riyadh, on the request of Premier Imran, also decided to provide e-visa facility to Pakistani pilgrims. Under the facility, intending pilgrims will be provided visas at their doorstep.

In April this year, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) decided to implement the Hajj immigration plan 2019 “Road to Makkah” project, under which pilgrims’ immigration process will be done in Karachi instead of Saudi Arabia.

The CAA announced that Islamabad airport would be used in the first phase and Karachi airport would be utilised in the second phase.

The authority also collected data of 150 officers and employees who would be deputed to facilitate pilgrims at the Karachi airport.

Additionally, it was said that a grant of Rs5 million would be disbursed for trolley services and other expenses.

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