Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Ahmad Shah said on Tuesday that efforts were on to curtail hajj expenses from Rs 2,36,000 to Rs 200,000 per pilgrim, under the government scheme for the Hajj 2011.
“Keeping in view the difficulties of the previous years, difficulties of pilgrims, we have decided to take a number of steps,” he said replying to a supplementary question in the Senate during the question-hour session.
Sharing the details, he said applications would be sought by April 10, this year from the intending pilgrims and the whole process would be finalized by the end of that month.
The minister said that the services of those Pakistanis, who are already in Saudi Arabia would be hired as Khuddam-e-Hujjaj and their number would be increased from 400 to 800. “Previously Khuddam were paid 70 Saudi riyals for their services but now they will get 100 riyals. We have formed a committee to conduct interviews from those Pakistanis who are already present at the holy land,” he said.
He said to resolve transportation problems of Hujjaj the services of Urdu speaking drivers would be hired.
To another question about private tour operators, he said that they charge from Rs. 2,40,000 to Rs. 1.4 million from the pilgrims, depending upon the facilities being offered by them. He said with an aim to relieve the PIA from extra burden, talks would also be initiated with other Airlines to airlift the pilgrims.
The minister said that the overall operation of Hajj 2010 remained satisfactory, however some difficulties were faced by the Hujjaj of five Makatib due to incomplete setup and general amenities. Ministry is in the process of reviewing the whole system for making the entire process transparent and pilgrim-friendly, he said.