The government and the Haj Organisers Association of Pakistan (HOAP) on Thursday agreed to a quota of 60,000 pilgrims for the year, with 12,000 in addition to their original quota of 72,000 next year.
A four-member high level committee formed on the directive of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held talks with the Haj Organisers Association over the pilgrim quota.
The committee was headed by Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar and comprised Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervaiz Rashid, Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Yousaf and Minister of State for Religious Affairs Pir Ameen ul Hasnaat.
Talking to reporters, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the government had already requested Saudi Arabia to increase the pilgrims’ quota. “But the Saudi government has cut the Haj quota 2013 because of the expansion of Baitul Harram, which is applicable to all countries,” he added.
He said the committee held four meetings with the Haj tour operators to resolve the quota issue. The operators would be compensated next year, he added.
HOAP Chairman Waheed Iqbal Butt said the issue of cut in Haj quota had been settled with the government.
Dar said the Ministry of Religious Affairs would sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the HOAP regarding increase in their Hajj quota for the next year.
Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Yousaf said all applicants under the government Haj scheme would perform the religious obligation this year.