A total of 90,924 intending pilgrims were selected through computerised balloting on Tuesday to perform the religious obligation under the government Haj scheme 2019.
Conducted by Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri in Islamabad, the balloting process was completed in just about two hours. The applicants will be informed of the decision via SMS while they can also check the ballot results on the ministry's website by entering either their CNIC number or the Haj application number.
From the total quota of 107,526 pilgrims in the government Haj scheme, a total of 2,238 spaces were allotted to the aspiring pilgrims who are 80-years or older, 12,251 to those who have been unsuccessful in the Haj ballot for three consecutive years in the past, 1,613 were reserved for the hardship quota and 500 for the labour quota.
The remaining 90,924 were selected through the general ballot held today.
On Saturday, a religious affairs ministry spokesperson, Imran Siddiqui, had confirmed that the time period to submit Haj applications for the government scheme had closed.
A total of 216,623 applications were received for the government scheme — 123,700 from men and 92,923 from women.
For this year, the largest number of applications for the government scheme came from Punjab with 100,806 applications. A total of 49,343 applications were received from Sindh, 40,752 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 10,258 from Balochistan, 6,412 from Islamabad Capital Territory, 2,316 from Azad Kashmir, 4,314 from erstwhile Fata, and 2,422 from Gilgit-Baltistan.
At a press briefing held during today's balloting, Qadri said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had accepted Prime Minister Imran Khan's request to include Pakistani pilgrims in the Kingdom's "Road to Makkah" project.
He said a high-level Saudi delegation will soon visit Pakistan to review arrangements, after which pilgrims travelling from Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta will be able to undergo immigration clearance at their local airports.
The minister also said that the Saudi government had increased the Haj quota for Pakistanis to 200,000 and was hopeful that they would soon inform the Pakistani government of this in writing.
As per the Haj Policy 2019 released by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, a total of 184,210 Pakistani pilgrims are to perform Haj this year.
The federal cabinet had announced the policy on January 31, according to which the cost of performing the ritual under the government scheme has been fixed at Rs456,426 (with sacrifice), against last year’s expense of Rs280,000 per person.
Under the government scheme, Haj dues excluding sacrifice will be Rs436,975 for the northern region of the country including Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Multan and Rahim Yar Khan, while the cost for the south region including Karachi, Quetta and Sukkur will be Rs426,975.