February 20, 2024

Pakistan receives ‘sluggish response’ for Hajj functions beneath authorities scheme amid inflation 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s authorities has acquired solely 13,000 functions for the Hajj 2024 pilgrimage in 10 days in opposition to a quota of 89,605 pilgrims, an official confirmed on Wednesday, citing inflation as one of many causes for the candidates’ “sluggish response.” 

 Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage that has been in observe for over 1,400 years. It is without doubt one of the 5 pillars of Islam, and requires each grownup Muslim to undertake a journey to the holy Islamic websites in Makkah at the very least as soon as of their lifetime (if they’re financially and bodily in a position). 

Pakistan’s Ministry of Non secular Affairs invited Hajj 2024 functions beneath the federal government’s scheme from Nov. 27 and the method will proceed until Dec. 12. The quota for Pakistanis performing the pilgrimage beneath the federal government’s scheme subsequent yr is 89,605, with the pilgrimage anticipated to value Rs1,075,000 [$3,769] per head. 

“Now we have acquired round 13,000 functions for Hajj to this point in 10 days beneath the federal government scheme,” Umar Butt, the faith ministry’s spokesperson, advised Arab Information. 

“Inflation and opening of early Hajj functions often is the causes behind a sluggish response from the candidates.” 

Pakistan’s client value index (CPI) jumped 29.2 p.c in November on a year-on-year foundation, the nation’s statistics bureau mentioned earlier this month. Costs went up by 2.7 p.c in November as in comparison with a 1 p.c enhance within the month earlier than. 

Butt added that Pakistan failed to meet its Hajj quota in 2023 following which it surrendered a quota of 8,000 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. 

This yr, Saudi Arabia restored Pakistan’s pre-coronavirus Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims and lifted the higher age restrict of 65 years to carry out the pilgrimage. Greater than 81,000 Pakistani pilgrims carried out Hajj beneath the federal government scheme in 2023 whereas the remaining used non-public tour operators. 

Talking in regards to the Hajj sponsorship scheme, Butt mentioned the federal government has to this point acquired beneath 1,000 functions in opposition to an allotted quota of 25,000 pilgrims. 

The ‘Sponsorship Scheme Hajj’ was launched by the federal government this yr, permitting abroad Pakistanis to use for Hajj or sponsor somebody in Pakistan for the journey by paying in US {dollars}. In return, candidates wouldn’t should take part within the balloting course of. 

This yr, the federal government’s Hajj sponsorship scheme might solely entice 7,000 functions in opposition to a complete quota of 44,000. The numbers have been a setback for Pakistan because the South Asian nation hoped to generate $194 million from the scheme out of the whole $284 million required for its 2023 Hajj operation.

“The federal government might determine to increase the Hajj functions date to encourage a optimistic response from candidates,” Butt mentioned.

He, nevertheless, mentioned if Pakistan did not obtain the required variety of Hajj functions, it will as soon as once more should give up its quota of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. 

Butt mentioned the federal government initiated the method of inviting Hajj 2024 functions early following a request from Saudi Arabia as the dominion needed to rearrange lodging, transportation, and different amenities for pilgrims on time. 

Candidates for subsequent yr’s Hajj would additionally not be required to submit COVID-19 immunization certificates because the World Well being Group (WHO) has declared the illness not a public well being emergency, Butt mentioned. 

This yr, Saudi Arabia has additionally included Karachi in its Makkah Route Initiative, following profitable operations in Islamabad. The initiative permits pilgrims performing Hajj beneath the federal government scheme the comfort of present process all immigration necessities to enter Saudi Arabia from their dwelling international locations’ airports. 

Islamabad has additionally requested the dominion to incorporate Lahore airport within the venture to facilitate extra Pakistani pilgrims.