Government to reimburse $27.5 million saved on smart Hajj arrangements

Government to reimburse $27.5 million saved on smart Hajj arrangements
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information, Firdous Ashiq Awan briefing the media persons about the decisions taken in federal cabinet meeting along with Religious Affairs Minister Noor ul Haq Qadri in Islamabad on July 02, 2019. (PID)
Updated 03 July 2019

Government to reimburse $27.5 million saved on smart Hajj arrangements

Government to reimburse $27.5 million saved on smart Hajj arrangements
  • Pilgrims will receive between Rs25,000 and Rs58,000 based on proximity of their residences with Masjid Al-Haram, minister says
  • Hajj flights for 200,000 Pakistanis will commence from Thursday

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan government has saved around 4.5 billion rupees (approximately $27.5 million) in renting the accommodation and transport facilities for Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia this year, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri said on Tuesday, announcing to distribute the saved money among the pilgrims.
The Hajj flights for 200,000 Pakistanis traveling to Makkah and Madinah are scheduled to commence from Thursday. Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the first flight to see the pilgrims off to the sacred journey.
“We will return between Rs25,000 and Rs58,000 to each pilgrim based on the proximity of their accommodation in Saudi Arabia,” the minister said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad. He was apprising the media about the federal cabinet’s approval for the Hajj Plan 2019.
The pilgrims with residence near Masjid Al-Haram will be returned around Rs25,000 and those with residence farthest from the mosque will be refunded Rs58,000, he added.
The minister said that his team had saved over $27 million in the accommodation, transportation and food contracts for the pilgrims in Makkah and Madinah. “We are trying our utmost to provide best facilities to our pilgrims for which the Saudi government has also extended its full cooperation,” said Qadri.
Talking about the Road to Makkah project, he said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman granted the permission to include Pakistan in the project upon special request of Prime Minister Khan.
“Under this project, we are issuing e-visas and pre-departure immigration facilities to our pilgrims,” he said. “This is a revolutionary change in making Hajj easy for our people.”
The government has hired latest buses in the twin holy cities for transportation of the pilgrims, informed the minister adding that the pilgrims will be provided with Pakistani meals during their stay in the holy cities.
A 51-member Saudi immigration team has already reached Pakistan to extend immigration clearance to the pilgrims flying from Islamabad International Airport. This team will formally start working from Thursday. “This is a pilot project and will be extended to other cities as well in the coming years,” the minister said.
According to the Hajj flight operations schedule, pre-Hajj flights will start from July 4 and conclude on August 5 while post Hajj flights will run from August 17 to September 14 this year.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will operate a total of 294 flights for pilgrims, out of which 86 flights will be for Madinah and 208 flights for Jeddah.
Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said the prime minister has “special spiritual and religious attachment to the sacred places in Saudi Arabia” and that is why he has decided to inaugurate the first Hajj flight.
“Prime Minister has given clear instructions to all relevant departments and authorities to provide maximum relief to the pilgrims during their stay in Makkah and Madinah,” said Awan.