ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday announced the Hajj-2022 package, putting the expenses during the holy journey to more than Rs850,000, while the government would provide a subsidy of Rs150,000 to help the intending pilgrims.
Religious Affairs Minister Mufti Abdul Shakoor told a press conference that the federal cabinet had approved support amount of Rs150,000 for pilgrims, after which the total cost of the Hajj package would come down to just over Rs700,000.
“Despite the difficult situation, the incumbent government has extended this generous support, keeping in view the financial issues of the people,” Mufti Shakoor said. “After the support amount, the Hajj package would cost almost Rs700,000,” he added.
Shakoor said that since the day he had assumed the charge of the Religious Affairs Ministry, he was determined to reduce Hajj expenses, adding that he was aware that intending pilgrims were worried due to rising cost of the package.
The minister said that after the announcement of mandatory Hajj expenses by the Saudi government and approval of the Hajj Policy 2022 by the federal cabinet, the total cost of Hajj package rose to Rs851,127 for the northern region and Rs860,177 for the southern region.
However, the minister made it clear that after the support amount approved by the federal cabinet, the Hajj package would come down to Rs700,000. He also announced that the pre-Hajj flights would start from June 6.
“As per Saudi government’s instructions, the first flight under the Road to Makkah project would take off on June 6. The intending pilgrims will be informed about their flights through website and text messages on their cellphone numbers,” he said.
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) also announced on Tuesday it would start the Hajj operation on Monday, June 6 with the take-off of the first flight, carrying 329 intending pilgrims, from Islamabad for Madina Munawwara.
“PIA will start its Hajj operation from June 6 that will continue till July 3,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan said. The one-month post-Hajj flight operation will commence on July 14 and continue till August 13,” he added.
“The PIA’s overall Hajj operation will be consisted of 331 flights that will be operated at five major airports – Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Quetta,” he said, adding that the national flag carrier would extend all possible facilities to the intending pilgrims.
Meanwhile, the Saudi authorities issued a new advisory for the intending pilgrims. The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said in a notification that pilgrims must not be above 65 years of age, must have the anti-Covid vaccine, approved by the ministry of health, and show a negative Covid test report, taken 48 hours prior to arrival in Saudi Arabia.
GACA directed all airlines to strictly comply with the guidelines, warning that the airlines would be fined for any violation of the advisory. “All airlines must strictly adhere to the guidelines,” the notification said.
Saudi Arabia had scaled back the Hajj in the previous two years, allowing only those already in Saudi Arabia because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the authorities allowed pilgrims from abroad with certain pandemic-related restrictions.