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KSA revives Pakistan’s pre-pandemic Hajj quota

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia has revived Pakistan’s pre-pandemic Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims with the draft of annual Hajj agreement removing the upper age limit of 65 years.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony’s Spokesperson Muhammad Umar Butt informed the Media that Minister Mufti Abdul Shakoor had requested the Saudi authorities to further reduce the mandatory Hajj expenses as it would help lessen the maximu burden on the Pakistani pilgrims who wanted to perform Hajj.

The Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq Fawzan Al Rabiah had given a positive indicator into the matter, he added.

The spokesperson said the minister who is on an official visit to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia these days to attend the four-day Hajj Expo 2023 – a major exhibition and conference – met Osama Samkari, chairman of a bus transport company Nicaba Sayarat and discussed provision of better travel facilities to the pilgrims in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.

He informed that Mufti Abdul Shakoor met with his Saudi counterpart among other several important figures and visited various organizations.

He said the participants were briefed on modern Hajj arrangements and facilities in light of Saudi Vision 2030 at the conference.

He said this year, it would be mandatory for Hajj applicants to have a bank account in Pakistan and a machine-readable passport which should be valid at least till 26th December, 2023.

Umar Butt said Hajj applications would likely be called by the end of February and the religious affairs minister would announce the final Hajj Policy 2023 after the cabinet’s approval.

On this occasion, Secretary of Religious Affairs Dr. Aftab Akbar Durrani, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al Maliki, Hajj Director Sajid Asdi and representative of Hajj Organizers Association of Pakistan (HOAP), an association of private Hajj scheme operators, were also present with the minister.