ISLAMABAD: At least 5,000 additional people from Pakistan are likely to perform Hajj this year as the quota for the country has been increased.
According to official, Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs has been informed regarding the increase in Hajj quota by the Saudi Arabia government.
The increased quota will be distributed among private tour operators as per the Hajj policy.
A total of 184,210 Pakistanis will perform Hajj this year, said official in Ministry of Religious Affairs.
Earlier, when Hajj Policy 2018 was approved by the federal government, a quota of 179,000 was fixed for Pakistan.
However, Ministry of Religious Affairs halted the balloting of official hajj applications on January 26 due to uncertainties in the policy on the quota of private tour operators and a court stay order.
Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Secretary Khalid Masood said the balloting was halted due to separate verdicts by three different courts on the quota issue.
He said Lahore High Court had ordered that quota for government and private Hajj operators should be on a 50/50 basis.
Later, a two-member bench of the Sindh High Court had ordered the quota be 60% for government operators and 40% for private operators.
A petitioner had approached the high court against the clause in the government’s new policy which stated that individuals need to wait for a certain period before performing the pilgrimage again.
On the other hand, the federal cabinet had decided last year to keep the quota for government at 67% and for private tour operators at 33%, Masood said.
That the verdicts by three different courts led to some confusion in the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
Hajj quota has become a chronic issue since it surfaces every year with a number of petitions instituted against the government’s policy.
People going for Hajj can either use private tour operators or the government quota which is finalised through a ballot.