Govt to return Rs5bn to Haj pilgrims

July 02, 2019

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More than four thousand intending pilgrims have been selected in the third phase of balloting. — AFP/File
More than four thousand intending pilgrims have been selected in the third phase of balloting. — AFP/File

The government will return Rs5 billion to Haj pilgrims saved in the acquisition of residences for Haj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, the religious affairs ministry announced on Tuesday.

The spokesperson for the ministry, Imran Siddiqui, made the announcement after the third phase of computerised balloting for Haj hopefuls was held.

He said that the ministry will start returning the amount to pilgrims starting July 3, through the Haji camps set up across the country.

The ministry will pay back Rs26,000 to Rs67,000 to each pilgrim — depending on the distance of their residence in Makkah from the holy site where Haj is performed.

As many as 4,316 more intending pilgrims were selected through the balloting today to perform the religious obligation under the revised Government Haj Scheme 2019.

The third phase of balloting was conducted after the approval of the federal cabinet, the spokesperson said in a statement.

The spokesperson added that a total of 123,316 people will perform Haj under the government scheme this year. He advised the successful participants to submit their dues and documents in the designated banks by July 10.

He further said that successful participants have been informed of their selection through SMS.

Talking about the Road to Makkah project, he said that the initiative will be made functional on July 5. All chartered flights from Islamabad to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be arranged under the initiative.

"Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the project on July 5," he added.

Under the Road to Makkah project initiated by Saudi Arabia, all immigration requirements will be fulfilled at the airport of origin. The authorities will complete the immigration process and screen the travel documents and luggage of pilgrims at the Islamabad airport. The pilgrims will not have to wait at airports in Saudi Arabia for immigration or their luggage, which will be transported to their place of stay.

The equipment required for immigration clearance has been installed in the Islamabad Airport's departure lounge and 10 special counters have been set up where the Saudi team, along with Pakistani authorities, will carry out the immigration process.