The Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony was informed on Tuesday that Pakistan’s Hajj quota for the year 2022 will be raised from 179,210 to 200,000 Hujjaj (pilgrims).
The committee was informed that the Hajj quota would be divided as follows: 60% for pilgrimages under the government’s scheme and 40% for organizers of Hajj groups. The Hajj quota of 5,000 pilgrims has also been distributed to 100 new private companies, officials said.
Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri presided over the committee meeting. The committee discussed the blacklisting of Hajj groups. A uniform policy for dealing with irregularities must be developed, the committee emphasized.
Members of the committee were informed that all Hujjaj would be provided with e-visa facilities. The officials said that challenges included health protocols; acceptance of Chinese vaccinations by Saudi Arabia; and the upscaling of the Road-to-Makkah initiative.
Considering the process will be largely computer-based, finding volunteers who are knowledgeable of rapidly changing technology and healthcare practices would also be a major challenge, the committee heard.
The committee also discussed the Guardian and Wards (Amendment) Bill and briefings on the Hajj Policy and policy and proposal for the pilgrimage of minorities to their sacred sites. The committee agreed that such visits were governed by law.
Senator Mohsin Aziz moved the Guardian and Wards (Amendment) Bill 2021. The committee was informed that the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) did not support the bill. The committee invited CII representatives to participate in further deliberations.
The increase in hajj quota will have a positive impact on the economy of the country.
Originally Published In Dawn