Pakistan Closes Hajj Registration Due To Low Response
The deadline for submitting applications under the Sponsorship Hajj Scheme for the upcoming year concluded on Sunday, with a significantly lower number of applicants than expected. The Pakistani government had extended the deadline until December 31st for the Sponsorship Scheme, but it did not result in the desired response.
According to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, the government received only around 3,800 applications for the Sponsorship Scheme, against the allocated quota of 25,000 seats. The sponsorship scheme, introduced last year, allows overseas Pakistanis to apply for Hajj or sponsor someone in Pakistan by paying in US dollars, with the benefit of avoiding the balloting process for the spiritual journey.
Read more : Hajj 2024 Balloting Schedule Announced
Earlier in the week, the government conducted balloting for regular Hajj applicants and selected 63,805 successful applicants who will be performing Hajj in 2024.
There is no indication of an extension in the deadline for the Sponsorship Hajj scheme, according to Muhammad Umer Butt, a spokesperson for the religious affairs ministry. The government had initially set December 12th as the deadline, which was later extended until December 22nd for the regular Hajj scheme. To attract more applicants, the government allowed those who had performed Hajj in the last 5 years to apply for the upcoming Hajj.
The authorities have also introduced a Short Hajj package for pilgrims, and the Sponsorship Scheme is valid for this year as well. The Long Hajj package, lasting 38-42 days with an 8-day stay in Medinah, has different costs based on the region. Applicants from the South region (Karachi and Sukkhur) will pay Rs 10,65,000, while those from other cities (Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Multan, Sialkot, Faisalabad) will pay Rs 10,75,000.
For Sponsorship scheme applicants, the cost is $3765 for the South Region and $3800 for the North Region for the Long Hajj package. The Short Hajj package costs Rs 11,40,000 for the South region and Rs 11,50,000 for the North region for regular Hajj applicants, with the Hajj duration ranging from 20-25 days. For the Sponsorship Scheme, the cost for the Short Hajj is $4015 USD for the South region and $4050 for the North region.