ISLAMABAD: The Sen­ate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs was inf­ormed on Thursday that the cost of performing Haj this year would increase by aro­und Rs115,000 to Rs550,000.

A meeting of the committee was informed by Reli­gi­ous Affairs Secretary Moha­mmad Mushtaq Ahmad that the Haj package for residents from the north region had been proposed at Rs550,000 and for those from the south region at Rs545,000. However, a final decision would be taken by the federal cabinet.

Chairman of the Senate committee Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri expressed displeasure over the abs­ence of Minister for Religi­ous Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noor-ul-Haq Qadri from the meeting. The committee was infor­med by the religious affairs secretary that the minister was in Karachi. But the committee members said the briefing on Haj operations was more important than the minister’s other engagements.

The committee was informed that the increase of Rs115,000 was due to depreciation of the rupee and increase in airfare and certain local costs in Saudi Arabia, include higher taxes on pilgrimage.

The religious affairs secretary said that around 179,000 Pakistanis would perform Haj this year and the minister was in touch with the Saudi authorities for relaxation of certain taxes on Pakistani pilgrims.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2020