JEDDAH – Saudi Arabia has approved a substantial jump in the number of intending pilgrims for upcoming Haj.
According to media reports, Saudi authorities have increased Pakistan’s Haj quota by 5,000, taking the number of pilgrims to 184,210 from 179,210.
The hike in the quota will be effective from Haj to be performed later this year. Reports said that the additional quota, according to Haj policy, will be distributed among the private tour operators.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has informed the Pakistani ministry about the latest development.
In 2017, the Arab country had enhanced Haj quota from 143,368 to 179,210 after an agreement with Pakistani officials.
Last month, the Ministry of Religious Affairs postponed the balloting of Haj applications under the government scheme for an indefinite period due to a stay order issued by the Sindh High Court.
The Sukkur bench of the High Court issued the stay order while hearing a petition filed by Mufti Abdul Majid against the new Haj policy, which bars a person from performing the Haj more than once during the specific time period. The petition argued that such move is against Shariah.
The officials of religious ministry have decided to move the Supreme Court against the high court’s orders, while the new date for the draw will be announced accordingly.
This year record-breaking Haj applications were received as 374,829 people submitted applications for the Government Haj scheme 2018. Under the policy, total 120,000 applicants will be selected through balloting.
The ministry received the highest number of applications from Karachi, totaling 81,985. It was followed by Lahore with 72,483, while Islamabad stood third with 67,896 applications.