ISLAMABAD - The successful Hajj applicants will be selected by balloting this year in contrast to the last year’s policy of first-come-first-served basis, according to the new Hajj Policy 2015 announced here Friday.

Minister of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousaf who unveiled the Hajj Policy 2015 before the media, said 143,368 Pakistanis would perform Hajj this year.

“Due to expansion of Haram Mosque in Mecca the quota of Pakistan was reduced by 20 percent in 2013 that will be followed in 2015 as well. The original quota of Pakistan was 179,210,” he said.

Under the government scheme, applications would be received from April 27 to May 8, 2015 and balloting would be conducted on May 14 to select the successful candidates. Hajj applications can be submitted with the specified branches of ten different banks.

The Hajj package of this year has been reduced by six to seven thousand rupees as compared to that of last year as per the directions of the Prime Minister, the minister said. The package has been reduced from Rs.2,72,231 to Rs.264,971 for Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (North Zone) and Rs.262,231 to Rs.255,971 for Sindh and Balochistan (South Region). The pilgrims who opt to perform Qurbani through government scheme will have to pay additional Rs.14,210.

The minister said the airfare has also been reduced to Rs.98,700 from Rs.107,700 for the North Zone while the airfare for South Zone has been cut to Rs.89,700 from Rs.97,700. PIA and designated private airlines will carry the pilgrims and private airlines will also follow the same airfare.  

According to the policy, anyone who has performed Hajj during the last five years will not be eligible to perform pilgrimage this year except for those people who will be going as ‘Mehram’ or the ones performing ‘Hajj-e-Badal’. Following the tradition, this year too no one will be facilitated to perform Hajj free of cost and under the government scheme 5 percent quota will be reserved for hardship cases.

The government and private Hajj Group Organisers will be operating on a 50-50 quota basis and no new organisers will be given quota this year, the minister said.

Under the government scheme, fifty percent intending pilgrims will be airlifted directly to Madina and fifty percent to Mecca for the first time for better management.

A medical mission of 450 people, 450 people as ‘Mawneens’, 200 seasonal duty staff, and 400 local ‘Mawneens’ will be appointed to facilitate the pilgrims, informed the minister.  

The pilgrims will be provided food in Mecca, Madina and Mina as per the practice of last year. And, they will be distributed five liters of ‘Zam Zam’ at Pakistani airports on their return from the pilgrimage.

The transport facility will be provided to the Hujjaj round the clock besides they will be accommodated at one place as different categories of accommodation have been abolished.

The complaints of the pilgrims will be received by call centres, emails, and special monitoring teams for redressal.

As per the policy, the machine-readable passports computerised national identity cards and medical certificate was also made mandatory to be submitted for pilgrims. It will be mandatory for the pilgrims to display Pakistani identity card and every female pilgrim will be required to carry two ‘abayas’ preferably of black colours.