ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government has allocated the entire additional Hajj quota to the old Hajj tour operators, ignoring the non-quota holders as well as the recommendation of the Hajj Policy Formulation Committee.
Sources told The Express Tribune that the religious affairs minister and the secretary had developed a strong difference over the allocation of additional Hajj quota to the operators.
The secretary had proposed the cabinet to allocate the additional quota of 6,316 out of 15,790 Hujjaj under the private scheme to the enrolled non-quota holder companies on merit in line with the recommendation of the Hajj Policy Formulation Committee.
The proposal was also in line with the earlier decision of the cabinet taken on January 31, 2019. However, the religious affairs minister opposed the proposal.
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Sources in the Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony Division told The Express Tribune that the cabinet had approved the Hajj Policy and Plan 2019 in its meeting on January 31, 2019.
According to the approved Hajj policy, of the total country’s Hajj quota of 179,210, 60 per cent or 107,526 was allocated to the government Hajj scheme, while 40 per cent or 71,684 to the private Hajj scheme - Hajj Group Organisers (HGOs).
The Saudi government allocated an additional quota of 5,000 pilgrims which was also given to the private sector.
It was briefed that later on the government of Saudi Arabia enhanced the Hajj quota of Pakistan from 184,210 to 200,000 by granting an additional quota of 17,790 Hujjaj. A summary containing proposals regarding utilisation of additional quota was presented in the cabinet on May 27, 2019.
It was further informed that the cabinet meeting held on May 28 approved the proposal that 9,474 or 60 per cent of 15,790 be allocated to the government Hajj scheme. Due to the difference of opinion between the religious affairs minister and secretary, the decision regarding allocation of 6,316 or 40% to the HGOs was deferred till the arrival of the minister from his tour abroad.
In view of the tussle between the minister and the secretary, the proposal of allocating additional quota of 6,316 to the enrolled non-quota holder companies on merit was submitted in the cabinet.
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The proposal was based on the recommendation of the Hajj Policy Formulation Committee and in line with the earlier decision of the cabinet taken on January 31, 2019 which allocated additional quota of 5,000 to the enrolled non-quota holder companies.
The secretary was of the view that the move would break the monopoly of existing quota holder companies. Secondly, principle of justice demanded that it be allotted to enrolled non-quota holder companies instead of giving it to those companies which already had quotas.
However, the religious affairs minister was of the view that additional quota be allotted to the existing HGOs temporarily for Hajj 2019 only because they had vast experience and were capable of facilitating the Hujjaj during Hajj operation 2019.
Approval of the cabinet was sought. The cabinet approved the proposal of the minister provided it was in conformity with the judgement of the Supreme Court of Pakistan taken on April 21, 2019.
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