Federal government’s announcement of Hajj policy like every year came as a bombshell for pilgrims who have to suffer increase in either airfare or rent of accommodation while fulfilling the religious obligation. The Federal Cabinet approved the 2013 Hajj policy, according to which 180,000 Pakistanis will perform the pilgrimage this year. Applications are to be accepted on a first come, first serve basis. Official sources have confided to the media that this year the Hajj expenses would witness an escalation of 15 to 20 percent. PIA doesn’t seem to be cooperating as it is demanding one hundred thousand rupees as fare per pilgrim while Ministry of Religious Affairs is insisting to bring it down to Rs 95,000.

Across the Muslim world, subsidy for the Hajjis is a much vaunted norm. One wonders what is the purpose of a Hajj policy – which becomes a misnomer — if the faithful are left in the lurch? Further disappointing is massive financial misdemeanors that invariably occur every season. Besides the Supreme Court is hearing a case in which the federal minister and Hajj Secretary have been found guilty. Leniency where such criminals are concerned, the country and the pilgrims in particular can ill-afford.