LISLAMABAD: Pakistan is considering extending the deadline for submitting Hajj applications under the government scheme as so far, only 28,782 applications have been received.
The low turnout of applicants prompted authorities to explore alternative options to encourage more participation.
As per data, only 24,446 applications were collected under the official regular scheme on Saturday. The sponsorship scheme, aimed at facilitating pilgrims, received a modest 174 applications on the last day.
Ministry of Religious Affairs is considering extending the submission period by 7 to 10 days to boost the number of applications and ensure wider participation in the Hajj pilgrimage.
Despite slashing Hajj expenses and introducing short-term Hajj facilities, the number of applications has dropped this year too. The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony had to return the quota of almost 20,000 to Saudi Arabia after dropping in Hajj pilgrims last year.
Separately, Pakistan has abolished the mandatory requirement of Covid vaccination certificate for next year’s Hajj pilgrims.
The announcement was made by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony from its official X (Twitter) handle.
The mandatory requirement of showing a Covid vaccination certificate for the Hajj pilgrims in 2024 has been abolished, the ministry said.