ISLAMABAD: Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousaf has said that government is making serious efforts to provide maximum facilities to the intending pilgrims for Haj this year.

Talking in an exclusive interview on Radio Pakistan, he said that arrangements for 52,000 pilgrims have already been made. He said one hundred and forty three thousand Pakistanis will perform Haj this year.

He said the Ministry will follow an objective and transparent process in allocating accommodations to the pilgrims. He said accommodation arrangements for fifty two thousand pilgrims have already been made.

Replying to a question, Sardar Yousaf said on special directives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Haj package has already been reduced by twenty three thousand rupees per pilgrim as part of the government’s commitment to extend maximum facilities to pilgrims.

He said the ministry had made a special request to the Saudi authorities to exempt Pakistani Hujjaj from submitting food charges during their stay in Saudi Arabia. Replying to a question on increase in Umra fees by the Saudi government, the Minister said though Umra arrangements are made by private tour operators, yet the Ministry will take up this issue with Saudi officials.–APP