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A total of 87,813 intending pilgrims were selected through a transparent computerised balloting on Thursday to perform the religious obligation under the government Haj scheme 2018.

While a number of petitions pertaining to the Haj operations after being clubbed together on a recent apex court order are pending before the Islamabad High Court, the federal cabinet had on Wednesday decided to hold balloting for the pilgrimage on half of the official quota for applicants.

The decision aimed at partly resolving the issue may not affect the contentions of private Haj operators who had obtained stay orders against new Haj Policy-2018.

Minister of State for Religious Affairs Pir Aminul Hasnat Shah conducted the balloting process. Speaking on the occasion, the minister said: "Keeping in mind the growing restlessness among applicants and the uncertainty about reimbursement of payment, the ministry had requested the federal cabinet to proceed with the lottery under a 50 per cent quota."

This year 374,829 people have applied for Haj on government quota against the provisional quota for 179,210 Pakistani pilgrims allocated by the Saudi authorities.

Under the Haj Policy-2018, the share of private Haj operators was slashed from 40 to 33 per cent of total quota allocated by the Saudi authorities for Pakistani pilgrims.

Private operators challenged the decision and moved the Sindh High Court and Lahore High Court to obtain stay orders, making the government unable to decide the fate of 179,210 pilgrims. The balloting was earlier scheduled to be held on Jan 28.

The balloting for the remaining pilgrims would be conducted after permission of the court, which is yet to decide on the fate of disputed 17 per cent Haj quota.

He informed that keeping in mind the growing restlessness among applicants and the uncertainty of payment, the ministry had requested the federal cabinet to proceed with the lottery under a 50 per cent quota, following which the balloting took place and the lucky winners were announced.

A special quota of 10,000 had been kept for those above 80 years of age who were declared winners along with one attendant, without their names being drawn from the lottery.

Besides, candidates who had proved unsuccessful over the past three years were also assigned a quota of 10,000, it has been learnt. Also, this year the hardship quota has been fixed at two per cent.

Those whose names were not announced have been directed to collect back their payments after contacting their respective bank branch for which no permission from the ministry is required.

If the government is granted further quota by the court, then a separate balloting will take place in which those aspirants will be considered who haven't withdrawn payment from the bank.

The list of successful pilgrims would be placed on the ministry's website by 10 pm. The applicants can check their names by clicking their application numbers on the following websites www.hajjinfo.com and www.mora.gov.pk.

The successful aspirants would be intimated through Short Message Service (SMS) on their mobile phones while intimation letters would also be sent to the selected pilgrims. The successful applicants can also check their names by visiting their respective banks.