The federal cabinet on Wednesday approved Hajj Policy 2020, allowing 179,210 pilgrims to perform the annual holy pilgrimage, reported Radio Pakistan.
Addressing a news conference alongside Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan, Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri said up to 107,000 pilgrims will perform Hajj, while the remaining would perform the pilgrimage under private schemes.
Qadri said the Hajj package under the government scheme would cost Rs490,000 for pilgrims in the northern region, and Rs480,000 for those in the southern region.
The minister stated that the increase in the package was due to several factors – an increase in fares of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Saudi Airlines, depreciation of the Pakistani rupee, and for additional arrangements in Mina and Makkah.
He further added that the Saudi government has added an additional fee of SR300 for every visa and SR110 for compulsory health insurance.
The religious affairs minister reassured that efforts were being made by the government to reduce the burden on the pilgrims this year, adding that pilgrims who performed Hajj last year, were reimbursed with Rs5.50 billion.
He said 22,000 Pakistani pilgrims benefited from the Road to Makkah project in 2019, and talks are ongoing to extend the road to other major cities – Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta.
A quota of 1,000 people has been allocated for overseas Pakistanis and citizens over the age of 70 would be sent without balloting.
An office would be set up with the Saudi Hajj Ministry to immediately address any issues faced by the pilgrims.
“Direct flights from Quetta to Jeddah and Medina would be operational this year, as well as temporary camps for pilgrims of Gilgit-Baltistan,” he said.