16,000 more Pakistanis to perform Haj under revised quota

April 29, 2019

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The religious affairs ministry prepares a summary under which balloting will be held for additional 9,474 seats. — AFP/File
The religious affairs ministry prepares a summary under which balloting will be held for additional 9,474 seats. — AFP/File

The Ministry of Religious Affairs has decided to hold another round of Haj balloting after Saudi Arabia revised the quota for Pakistani pilgrims, it emerged on Monday.

The Saudi government increased the Haj quota for Pakistani pilgrims to 200,000 from the previous 184,210.

The religious affairs ministry has decided to divide the additional quota of around 16,000 pilgrims as per the existing formula under which 60 per cent of the seats will go to the government Haj scheme, while 40pc will be granted to the private sector, an official told DawnNewsTV.

Take a look: Saudi thinks govt should hand Haj operations over to private tour operators: Noorul Haq Qadri

The new ballot will include aspiring pilgrims who had applied for Haj under the government scheme for 2019 but could not succeed.

According to a summary prepared by the ministry, balloting will be held for 9,474 places, whereas 6,316 pilgrims will perform the Islamic ritual through new private tour operators.

Those applicants who haven't withdrawn their Haj dues from banks will be included in the balloting automatically, while those who have withdrawn the amount will be given four days to re-submit it.

The date for the new ballot will be announced after approval from the federal cabinet, the official said.

Saudi Arabia has included Pakistan in its "Road to Makkah" project, which will allow pilgrims to undergo immigration clearance at Pakistani airports before leaving for Haj.

Riyadh, on the request of Prime Minister Imran Khan, has also decided to provide e-visa facility to Pakistani pilgrims. Under the facility, intending pilgrims will be provided visas at their doorstep.

Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr Noorul Haq Qadri had announced in February that the immigration facility was being extended to Lahore and Islamabad, after Karachi.