Haj cost in Pakistan drops as result of effective management: Yousaf

Saudi Gazette

— “Managing the accommodation of over 2 million people of different ethnic background from across the globe in a tent city is not an easy job, but the government of Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman has been organizing Haj in a smooth and best possible way,” said Pakistan’s Federal Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Minister Sardar Mohammed Yousaf.

The rapid expansion of Grand Mosque and other holy sites has been instrumental in making Haj smooth and allowing for easier performance of rituals, he added.

A seasoned politician and a powerful tribal leader Yousaf hails from from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. He was in the Kingdom as head of Pakistan Haj delegation.

Speaking to Saudi Gazette, he praised the superb Haj arrangements made by the Saudi authorities and appreciated their continuous efforts to improve the services for pilgrims. He added, hopefully we’ll see more services as the authorities have always shown keenness to further improve Haj services.

In this direction, the minister said that Pakistan had suggested some positive and helpful measures to Saudi authorities in the context of space, cooling, transport.

The minister said that Saudi Arabia had sanctioned an additional 5,000 slots, in addition to 179,000, for Haj, which Pakistan was not able to utilize as all arrangements were done and there was no time left for realignment.

He also said that only 47,000 pilgrims were able to use the Al Mashaer train service in the holy sites and hoped that in future services more would be accommodated as all Pakistani pilgrims wanted to use the train service.

He said that his ministry is striving hard to make Haj more comfortable and cost-effective as consequence there was a remarkable improvement in Haj arrangements in the last three years in line with the vision of former Premier Nawaz Sharif.

“More Pakistanis intending to perform Haj have been opting for the government Haj scheme that reflects our government sincere efforts. This year, 338,696 people applied to perform Haj through the government Haj scheme — the highest ever number that had applied for Haj in Pakistan,” Yousaf said.

He added, 108,000 performed Haj through the government scheme and 71,000 performed Haj through private operators.

He said that government has reduced the cost of Haj, down to Rs.280,000, including food, from 320,000 and he noted that the previous years cost was high and without food while this year the Haj package cost less in addition to provision of food.