Pakistani pilgrims gearing up for the sacred journey of Haj have received heartening news, as the Caretaker Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Dr. Aneeq Ahmed, declared a noteworthy reduction in government expenses for this spiritual undertaking. In a bid to offer uncompromised facilities without burdening pilgrims financially, the government has slashed Haj expenses by Rs0.1 million.
Suitcases and National Flag Scarfs
The announcement brings a ray of hope for pilgrims, as they will now be provided with added amenities and support during their pilgrimage. One of the standout provisions is the allocation of a 30kg suitcase for each pilgrim, ensuring they can carry necessary belongings without worry. Notably, female pilgrims will receive special scarfs (abaya) adorned with the national flag, a unique gesture aimed at promoting national identity and pride among the pilgrims, marking the first-time inclusion of such a provision.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Haji Camp Karachi, Dr. Ahmed shed light on the introduction of a mobile application designed to assist and guide pilgrims throughout their journey. This innovative app will provide navigation aid and ensure constant communication between pilgrims and relevant officials. Initially available in English and Urdu, the app will later include various regional languages, catering to a wider audience and facilitating ease of access for all pilgrims.
Karachi and Islamabad in Road to Makkah
Furthermore, efforts have been made to streamline the Haj process. Karachi and Islamabad have been integrated into Saudi Arabia’s Road to Makkah project, allowing the Karachi airport to handle immigration procedures for pilgrims. This strategic inclusion aims to expedite and simplify the journey for Pakistani pilgrims.
Dr. Ahmed emphasized the government’s endeavor to make Haj financially accessible for citizens by introducing a 20-day short Haj package. Additionally, plans are underway to accommodate Pakistani pilgrims in tents at Old Mina, addressing challenges posed by the distance to New Mina.
With a commitment to pilgrim welfare, Dr. Ahmed assured oversight of private Haj operators, who will manage half of the secured 179,000 Haj seats. The Ministry of Religious Affairs will monitor these operators, holding them accountable for ensuring pilgrim safety and comfort throughout their journey.
As the government continues renovation work at the Haji Camp Karachi, Dr. Ahmed reiterated their dedication to enhancing pilgrimage facilities. However, it’s crucial to note that the announced package excludes qurbani (sacrifice) expenses during the Haj.
Additionally, intending pilgrims opting for a shorter stay in Medina will benefit from a further reduction of Rs 35,000 in Haj expenses. These measures underscore the government’s commitment to facilitating a spiritually enriching Haj experience while alleviating financial burdens for Pakistani pilgrims.