LAHORE - Immediate withdrawal of the government decision regarding 19 per cent raise in Haj expenses was unanimously demanded by the speakers at a dialogue held at the Hameed Nizami Hall here on Monday. The speakers were of the view that the Ministry of Religious Affairs gave no reason to this raise in Haj expenses, which in fact was a huge burden on the poor who save their every penny to perform this religious obligation throughout their life. The role of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which was found one of the major contributing factors in the raise in expenses, was also criticised in the dialogue titled 'Haj Policy 2010 - Merits and Demerits. Pir Syed Kabir Ali Shah of Churra Sharif, Jamaat-I-Islami Deputy Secretary General Dr Farid Ahmad Paracha, Tehrik Minhajul Quran Nazim-e-Aala Dr Rahiq Ahmad Abbassi, ex-Director Haj Syed Farogh Aftab Zaidi and Haj-Umrah Organisation Association Chairman Al-Haj Shahid Rafique were the participants of the dialogue. Syed Kabir Ali said that instead of giving relief to the pilgrims, who had spiritual and holy desires of performing Haj, the government added to their miseries by announcing hike in the Haj expenses. He said that the PIA should be asked to low fares during Haj and Umrah season and if the Airline was not willing to do so, other airlines should be allowed to deliver services for the pilgrims. He emphasised the need for imparting better training to the pilgrims that could help them while performing Haj. Dr Farid said tha the PIA had made Haj and Umrah a source for all of its earnings. Last year the price of oil in international market was $139 per barrel and the fare for Haj was Rs 74,000, but now the fare had been fixed at Rs 80,000 against the $ 70 per barrel price in the international market, he said and added that the Ministry concerned, Pakistani envoys in Saudi Arabia, high government officials besides private contractors were 'earning huge profits during the Haj days. Dr Rahiq said that the people were asking the government to take back its decision. He said if the government officials tried to manage the expenses, the same could be decreased by 40 per cent, adding however, the government had pledged not to give relief to the masses in any sector. Shahid Rafique strongly criticised the PIA and the Ministry on its policies on Haj and Umrah, and demanded of the government to allow other airlines for Haj operation. He added that four airlines of Saudi Arabia were ready to operate for pilgrims even at 40 per cent lesser fare than that announced by the PIA. He also demanded of the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) to abolish the tax of Rs 17,000 on very ticket for Haj. Speaking on the occasion, Farog Aftab, however, justified the role of the Ministry in raising Haj expenses. According to him the Ministry had not increased its services charges of Rs 500 over for the last 10 years. He said the PIA, the residence charges at Makkah and Madinah played role in the increasing expenses.