ISLAMABAD                 -            The Senate Sub-Committee on Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony in its meeting on Monday discussed the cost reduction options of Haj package and emphasised on different measures to be taken to facilitate the masses.

The Committee showed reservations over the increase of Haj Package and directed that all possible measures must be taken to facilitate Hujjaj during Haj 2020.  However, the Committee was informed that main cause for increase in cost was devaluation of Pakistani rupee in international market and the Haj Package depends upon rates received from the Directorate General of Haj Jeddah based on market survey. 

The Committee was further informed that the major components of the Haj Package include, Makkah and Madina accommodations, compulsory Haj dues, food charges, Mashaa’ir charges, transport charges, train charges and air fare etc.   The Committee was briefed that 75 per cent Haj Expenses is incurred in Saudi Arabia and remaining in Pakistan in connection with payments of airfare to airlines and welfare activities for the Hujjaj. 

The officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs further told the Committee that all Hujjaj were reimbursed any extra amount that is saved from the Package.

Meanwhile, the convener of the Committee, Senator Hafiz Abdul Karim directed that all possible measures must be taken to ensure that Hujjaj are not burdened by excessive expenses.

He said that instead of reimbursements at a later stage, Hujjaj must be given relief upfront.

He further said that even those who are not selected for Haj despite applying; must be reimbursed within a week.  

The Committee was also informed that the Government has taken measures to provide relief to Hujjaj that includes reduction in airfare by USD 50 and out of a saving of PKR 8.7 billion available with Ministry from Haj collection account PKR 5 billion may be utilised as one time dispensation.

The Committee recommended that all measures must be taken to reduce rates of Makkah and Madina accommodation. Prime Minister must take up the Road to Makkah project with the Saudi Arabian Government. 

Flights must operate from all major airports and expenses must be taken from Haj welfare Fund and Hujjaj are not burdened, said the officials. The meeting chaired by Hafiz Abdul Karim was attended by Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar and senior officers from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony alongwith all concerned.