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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cabinet approves Haj Policy, discusses political and economic situation: Khursheed Shah/Firdous Ashiq Awan

ISLAMABAD, April 13 : The Federal Cabinet has approved Hajj Policy-2011 for the next Hajj under which one hundred seventy-nine thousand pilgrims will perform Hajj both under regular and private Hajj schemes.

Announcing detail of the Hajj policy after the meeting of Federal Cabinet, Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Shah along with Information Minister Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said under the new policy, applications will be entertained under first come first served basis. He said there will be no balloting for Hajj this year. He said this year one hundred and seventy nine thousand intending pilgrims will perform Hajj.

Syed Khurshid Shah said that all the five scheduled banks will start receiving Hajj applications from the 15th of this month till 10th of May. He said special counters will be set up at five thousand branches of the scheduled banks throughout the country. He said that the Cabinet approved reduction of Hajj expenditure as well. However air fare has been increased by six percent. He said under the white category each pilgrim from northern parts of the country will pay two hundred and twelve thousand rupees as compared to two hundred thirty eight thousand rupees last year. He said similarly the pilgrims traveling from southern parts of the country will pay two hundred thousand rupees as Hajj expenditure as compared to two hundred twenty-six rupees last year.

He said special arrangements will be made for pilgrims for their stay in Mina and they will be provided traveling facility by mono-train to perform Hajj. He said that efforts are underway to allocate a special terminal for Pakistani Pilgrims at Jeddah airport to facilitate the Hajis.

The Religious Affairs Minister said that from this year four hundred rupees per Haji will be charged under Mohafiz Scheme and in case of death they will be paid two hundred thousand rupees. In case of serious injuries one hundred thousand and in minor injuries fifty thousand rupees.

He said nine hundred Khudam will be enrolled from Pakistani students studying in Saudi Arabia and they will be given one hundred Riyals per day to look after the pilgrims.

A Haj Advisory Committee headed by Religious Minister has been established to address any difficulty in the way of Haj.

To a question the Minister said that free Haj quota has been eliminated and anybody who wants to perform Haj will have to pay its expenses first.

Minister for Information Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan briefing media said the cabinet besides approving the Hajj Policy also discussed economic and political situation of the country. She said the cabinet was briefed about the implementation of its decisions in various Ministries.

She said the Prime Minister directed to put up the consumer price index regularly before the cabinet for monthly review and take appropriate measures to bring down prices of essential commodities. She said the cabinet was informed that the prices of essential commodities are lower as compared to the other regional countries, but these are still high for our consumers due to some internal factors.

The Minister said that the cabinet also approved a number of agreements and MOUs signed with other countries.

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