ISLAMABAD: Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousuf on Monday said reducing the Hajj expenditures for the next year is his foremost priority.
“Efforts will be made to further improve the Hajj arrangements and facilitate the pilgrims in all possible manners,” he said while addressing a workshop in Islamabad.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony has also started consultations for the 2017 Hajj policy.
In 2016, approximately 143,00 pilgrims from Pakistan offered the sacred obligation of Hajj. The Hajj Policy 2016 had barred anyone from offering Hajj on official expenses.
Applications were accepted from 18-26 April and a lucky draw was held on 29 April to select the aspirant pilgrims.
The government quota was increased to 60 percent, whereas the rest was offered to private operators. This was rejected by the Supreme Court who restored the quota of 50 percent for private agencies.
All aspirants were mandated to attach a medical certificate and their passport valid at least six months from the start of Hajj.
There was a prohibition on accepting application of those offered Hajj in the last five years, but accompanying mehram (male) relatives were exempted from this rule.
In 2016, 1.8 million people offered Hajj out of which 1.3 million came from outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.