LAHORE (PR) - Pakistan’s government Haj scheme is the most economical in the region and the best in terms of facilities for pilgrims, a press release quoted a top Haj official as saying on Friday.

“Fresh and best quality meal is being provided to pilgrims at their residences. Best facilities will be provided to pilgrims this year as well,” Haj Director General Sajid Yousfani said during a media talk in the holy city of Makkah.

Yousfani said that he was trying his best to provide pilgrims residences in Markzia. He said that Haj is the name of toil and prayer. “We should be very patient during Haj. It becomes really difficult to arrange accommodation for all pilgrims as about 2.4 million Muslims will perform Haj this year,” he said. He told the media that he provided residences to all pilgrims near Al Azizia.

Yousfani said, “We try to improve our services every year and this is part of our continuous efforts. We have tried hard to cut expenses of Haj that are already lower than India. Despite cutting Haj expenses, we try to provide better facilities,” he said.

He said, “This year the first flight from Pakistan reached Saudi Arabia on July 14 whereas flights are being operated in Pakistan from Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan, Sukkur, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Islamabad and Rahim Yar Khan. A large number of pilgrims is reaching Madina directly from Pakistan. More than 7,000 pilgrims from Pakistan have reached Madina through 40 Haj flights,” he said.

Yousfani further said, “In order to provide assistance to pilgrims, our offices at Jeddah and Madina airports are open 24 hours. Besides these offices, well-equipped hospitals have been established at these places and field hospitals are being established. Online complaint and helpline is operative 24 hours and information about lost and found can be delivered to these centres.”

In response to a question about food quality, Yousfani said that it has been improved a lot and special committees have been formed to monitor it at all times. He said that 50,000 tickets of Pakistani quota have been collected for ‘Ayam e Mashair’ in Minna, Muzdalfa and Arafat. He said that every effort is being made to obtain another 50,000 tickets during days of ‘Ayam e Tashriq’ i.e. 10, 11, 12 and 13 Zilhaj.

He said that 150 new buses have been obtained to avoid any inconvenience to Haj pilgrims. He appealed to young and healthy people to accommodate old, weak, sick and females and travel in trains.

He said that Haj Director Imtiaz Shah, Syed Imtiaz Hussain, Malik Zia-ud-Din Kasi, Noor Islam and Ali Shair Jhakarni are playing very active role in different departments.