It is unfortunate that people in Pakistan understand and define religion emotionally rather than on reason. This tendency to see religion from the lens of emotions has neither done any good to the state nor benefited the society. The politicisation of Haj Policy 2019 by the opposition parties is nothing but the sad fact that our politicians are no different from classical clergy of medieval Europe. These politicians are mixing religion with the economy of the state.

Presently, the economy of the country is in such a perilous condition that the state wants to save every bit to put it on the right track. Therefore, it had no option but to withdraw the subsidy that the previous governments used to provide to those who would perform one of the essential religious obligations. But the opposition parties want to exploit the moment. The hue and cry in this regard is unfortunate. The clamour indicates that the opposition is unable to find problems with the governance of the state. For them, religion is the only remaining tool through which they can garner people’s support. Instead of supporting the ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the opposition parties are not playing a constructive role at all. In these hard days when the economic stability of the country is in question, the opposition benches are trying to instigate people against PTI. Nothing good will come out of it.

The government needs to stand firm by its decision. PTI can rely on the narrations of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to counter the emotional propaganda of parties like Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and others. The government has the opportunity to realise the people that religion is based on reason, not on emotions. Having said this much, it is also important that the ruling party take austerity measures in other areas as well. Its austerity drive should not stop on withdrawing subsidies on the performance of religious obligations.

Furthermore, the opposition parties, instead of cashing the moment for their narrow political interests, should analyse the situation carefully. The government has already stated that the significant expenditure increase in Haj is because of the increases made Saudi Arabia. So it is natural if the state has increased the costs of religious obligation. The Haj policy for 2019 also has some excellent and laudable initiatives that the state has introduced to provide maximum relief to the pilgrims. These points, if problematic, should be the points of debate rather than the increase in the cost of pilgrimage.