As of Friday, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony announced that the draw for the regular Haj scheme will take place on December 28 (Thursday), with approximately 179,000 Pakistanis expected to travel to Saudi Arabia for Haj in 2024.
The ministry’s spokesperson, Muhammad Umar Butt. Disclosed in a statement that over 66,000 applications have been submitted under the regular Haj program to date.
The ministry’s statement is released at the same time that today. (Friday) is the last day to submit applications for the regular scheme.
Furthermore, the spokesperson also announced that the submission application deadline for the sponsorship scheme has extended till December 31 in response to the requests made by overseas Pakistanis.
The government, in its bid to attract valuable foreign exchange in the wake of depleting forex reserves. Has allocated 25,000 seats in the sponsorship scheme. Those paying their dues in dollars from abroad will declared as “winners” without the need for ballotting.
The nine-day extension for the scheme comes as earlier private news channel. Reported that the ministry “alarmed” after only 2,800 Haj applications were received in the sponsorship scheme.
Not only had the ministry written to the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis to apprise Pakistanis living abroad about the Haj application filing process. But also decided to approach the Ministry of Information — after reaching out to interior and foreign ministries.
Additionally, the ministry’s statement highlighted that Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) had instructed airlines to submit their Haj flight schedule by January 2, 2024.
The government has also announced the launch of a mobile application specifically designed to digitalise Haj 2024.
The application — developed by the National Information Technology Board (NITB) — will provide information that is collected from the application form i.e. Personal information, group information. Mehram information, helper information, additional facilities, Haj dues, nominee information. And applicant’s bank account details, caretaker Minister for IT Dr Umar Saif revealed.
Pilgrims can access information about their Haj group, including group members’ details, the minister added.
It is important to note that private Haj. Operators have reserved half of the 179,000 Haj seats that Pakistan has secured.
In the meantime, it is anticipated that 89,605 Pakistanis will undertake the Haj under the government program. Which will cost about Rs1,075,000, or Rs100,000 less than it did the year before.
In addition. The government has unveiled long- and short-term packages that last for 20 to 25 days. And 38 to 42 days, respectively.
In the meantime. Women will have the chance to travel on the sacred path alone for the first time in history, as they are not traditionally required to have a male companion.