ISLAMABAD - Over 184,210 Pakistanis will perform the sacred religious ceremony of Haj next year following the increase of country's Haj quota by 5,000 pilgrims as comparing to this year's pilgrimage, said spokesman of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony.

The Haj agreement 2019 to this effect was inked by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Minister of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sahibzada Noor-ul-Haq Qadri and his Saudi Arabian counterpart signed the agreement in Saudi Arabia on behalf of their respective countries. It may be mentioned here that this year, 179,210 Pakistanis had performed Haj.

The Pakistani delegation led by Minister of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sahibzada Noor ul Haq Qadri is in Saudi Arabia in connection with Haj 2019 arrangements.

The spokesman said that Saudi Arabia has agreed to consider further increase in Pakistani Haj quota in consonance with the census results. Pakistanis will be given E visas. Both the countries agreed to gradually include Pakistanis Hujjaj in road to Makkah project.

According to which 35,000 Hujjaj from Sindh will initially take benefit from the project as their immigration and other formalities will be completed at Karachi airport.

The Saudi Arabian authorities told the delegation that the decision regarding waiving of Rs 2,000 additional fee on performers of multiple Umra will be taken after seeking consent of Khadmain Harmain Sharifain.

He said that most of the Pakistani pilgrims will be provided accommodation at old Mina. The Minister thanked Saudi Arabian authorities for incorporating recommendations of Pakistan in Haj agreement. Talking to APP, the sources said that the draft Haj Policy 2019 has already been prepared. The Ministry was considering various options including decreasing Haj quota of Haj Group Organisers (HGOs) and increasing quota of government Haj prices, fluctuations in rupee-dollar parity ratio. Haj package is likely to remain between Rs 340,000 to Rs 350,000 next year.

Other options included arranging nearby residences, improving transport and food facilities for Hujjaj. The Ministry has already held six consultative workshops in major cities for getting stakeholders recommendations.

In the workshops, Hujjaj who performed Haj this year, had shared their experiences and recommended improvement in Haj arrangements.

He said that the Ministry would finalise the Haj Policy 2019 by incorporating feedback from general public, Haj organisers, banks, airlines representatives, master trainers and representatives of other departments.