The Pakistani Ministry of Religious Affairs is considering the idea of inviting early applications for the Hajj pilgrimage next year and allowing pilgrims to pay their dues in installments, as revealed after a briefing by officials to the interim Religious Affairs Minister, Aneeq Ahmed.
This announcement followed a detailed presentation to Minister Aneeq Ahmed, where officials outlined this year’s Hajj pilgrimage arrangements.
The minister commended Saudi Arabia for their exceptional management of the pilgrimage, even in challenging weather conditions, and expressed the belief that approving the Hajj policy well in advance would enhance the overall arrangements.
The Ministry of religious affairs stated its intention to formulate a comprehensive Hajj policy for the long term. This includes the possibility of opening up early applications for Hajj 2024 and proposing a system for pilgrims to pay their dues in manageable installments.
Hajj holds significant importance as one of the fundamental pillars of Islam, requiring all financially capable Muslims to undertake it at least once in their lifetime. The pilgrimage encompasses a series of rituals carried out over four days in the vicinity of Makkah and its surrounding areas in western Saudi Arabia.
For the current year, Saudi Arabia reinstated Pakistan’s pre-pandemic Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims and removed the age restriction of 65 that was in place earlier. Out of the total, more than 81,000 Pakistani pilgrims participated through the government scheme, while private tour operators facilitated the remainder.
Pakistan has already secured its allotment for next year’s Hajj, prompting the nation to explore cost-effective travel alternatives by land and sea. This strategic approach is aimed at making the pilgrimage more economical for the pilgrims.
The outgoing Minister of Religious Affairs, Talha Mahmood, had earlier emphasized the advantage of knowing the next year’s quota in advance, which allows for better preparation and more feasible travel options such as sea or road travel. This move aligns with the goal of ensuring that Hajj remains accessible and affordable for all prospective pilgrims.