ISLAMABAD - The ministry of religious affairs and inter-faith harmony making public the names of successful candidates for Hajj 2014 has announced that the first Hajj flight would take off for Saudi Arabia on August 27.

Sardar Muhammad Yousaf, federal minister for religious affairs and inter-faith harmony, at a press briefing on Friday said that 53,814 Hajj applicants have been declared successful and they will perform the coming Hajj under the government scheme.

“The successful applicants can check their names on the ministry’s website while letters will also be sent to them on their given addresses,” he said. He asked the successful candidates to submit their machine-readable passport through their respective banks to the ministry by June 10 for onward visa processing. Those applicants who remained unsuccessful can collect their deposited money from their respective banks, he added.

The collection of Hajj applications had commenced on April 21, 2014 on first-come, first-serve basis through designated 6,500 branches of six banks across Pakistan. But the ministry had asked banks to stop accepting Hajj applications on the same day as the government had received applications more than the required number.

Rejecting the impression that only the people from urban areas benefited from the government scheme, the minister said that they had received applications from every nook and corner of the country and receiving applications from all 141 districts including Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) was a proof that people from across the country availed the chance to get benefit from the scheme.

“A total of 127,586 people applied for Hajj under the government scheme and of them 53,814 who deposited their applications by 10:09am on April 21 have been declared successful due to limited number of seats.” He said the forms that were erroneous or misappropriated with the connivance of banks staff were rejected and every minute was counted for the selection of the candidates.

From Azad Jammu and Kashmir 1,373 applications were received and out of them 484 candidates were declared successful; 9,045 forms were received from Balochistan and 3,102 persons were declared successful; 2,963 applications were received from FATA and 1,135 persons were declared successful; 1,792 applied for the scheme from Gilgit-Baltistan and 558 candidates remained successful; 2,699 forms were received from Islamabad capital territory and 1,685 applicants remained successful; 28,934 applications were received from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 11,021 candidates were termed successful; 55,953 persons applied for Hajj from Punjab and 24,613 candidates were declared successful; and 24,827 persons from Sindh had applied and out of them 11,214 candidates remained successful.

The first flight, he said, taking Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia would take off on August 27 while the last one would leave on September 28. He said the Saudi government has been requested to exempt Pakistani pilgrims from submitting food charges to be served to them during their stay in Saudi Arabia. “However, if the Saudi government refuses to accept the proposal of Pakistani government, there would be no increase in the Hajj package and the government itself will bear all additional charges if imposed by the Saudi authorities,” he said.