Pakistan’s Hajj quota raised to 200,000, Senate panel told

Standing committee on religious affairs defers deliberations on Guardian and Wards Bill


APP November 30, 2021
PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD:

The Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony was informed on Tuesday that Pakistan’s Hajj quota for year 2022 was being enhanced from 179,210 to 200,000 Hujjaj (pilgrims).

The committee was informed that the Hajj quota would be distributed at a ratio of 60:40 — 60% allocation for the pilgrimage under the government scheme and 40% for Hajj group organisers. Hajj quota of 5,000 pilgrims had been allocated to 100 new private companies as well, officials said.

The committee meeting was chaired by Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri. The committee took up the issue of blacklisted Hajj group organisers. The committee stressed that a uniform policy must be formulated to deal with irregularities.

The committee was informed that e-visa facility would be provided to all Hujjaj. The officials said that challenges included health protocols; acceptance of Chinese vaccinations by Saudi Arabia; and the upscaling of the Road-to-Makkah initiative.

Also read: In Makkah, women set off on Hajj as 'mehram' rule cast aside

Since this will predominantly be an information technology (IT)-based process, finding volunteers who were tuned to rapidly changing IT trends and healthcare practices would be a major concern as well, the committee members heard.

Other agenda items included the Guardian and Wards (Amendment) Bill and briefings on the Hajj Policy and policy and proposal for pilgrimage of minorities to their sacred sites. Discussing the pilgrimage of minorities, the committee opined that such visits were governed by the laws of the host countries.

While discussing the Guardian and Wards (Amendment) Bill 2021, moved by Senator Mohsin Aziz, the committee was informed that the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) did not support the bill. The committee summoned CII representatives for further deliberation on the matter in the next meeting.

The meeting was attended by senators Molvi Faiz Muhammad, Gurdeep Singh, Anwar Lal Deen, Prof Sajid Mir, Muhammad Akram, Haji Hidayatullah and senior officers of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony. Senator Mohsin Aziz was a special invitee.

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