Pakistan announces policy for Hajj pilgrims to Mecca

16:56, June 04, 2010      

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The Pakistani government has announced its Hajj Policy for 2010 under which 16 million pilgrims will be able to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia, local media reported Friday.

"The ministry would start receiving applications under the scheme from June 10, while the last date for the submission of applications would be June 25," said Hamid Saeed Kazmi, Minister for Religious Affairs.

There would be no special quota this year and all pilgrims traveling under the government scheme would be selected through balloting.

The Hajj is an annual pilgrimage Muslims to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. It is currently the largest annual pilgrimage in the world. In Islamic teachings this is the religious duty that must be carried out at least once in lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so.

Kazmi, talking to media persons, said the applicants who have been unsuccessful in ballot draws during the last two consecutive years under the government scheme would be declared successful without balloting.

Kazmi said an overall 19 percent hike in Hajj fare had been allowed this year due to inflation and aspirants would pay 238,000 rupees (one dollar equals 84 rupees).

Kazmi said the successful candidates would have to submit their original International Machine Readable Passports with their respective bank branches within four days of the balloting.

People welcome the new Hajj policy in the context that no special quota will be announced but they criticize the ministry for fare hike by 19 percent. Members of the Senate have also started hot discussions over the fare hike.

Source: Xinhua


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