ISLAMABAD: Meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony was held here at Parliament House on Monday with Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri in chair.
The Senate Committee deliberated on the recent letter written by Saudi Arabia proposing to reduce the number of Haj operators of Pakistan from 905 to 46. Caretaker Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Aneeq Ahmed stated that the Saudi Arabia intends to provide better facilities to pilgrims and in this regard the letter has been sent to all Muslim countries.
The committee recommended that exception should be provided to Haj operators for the year 2024 and the proposed number of operators by the Saudi government should be increased to 100.
The Senate body was briefed by the ministry on the recent Haj in 2023. Officials apprised that Haj quota for the year 2023 was 179,210 divided equally between the government and private sectors.
While discussing the Road to Makkah Project Aneeq Ahmed stated that ministry is in negotiation with Saudi government to extend Road to Makkah Project currently available at Islamabad Airport to Karachi and Lahore. He further remarked that expansion aims to facilitate more Hujjaj through the project.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs has proposed a shorter duration for Haj pilgrimage next year allowing pilgrims to decide the duration of their pilgrimage. A shorter Haj duration which could last between 18 to 20 days is seen as a significant move to make the pilgrimage more accessible and manageable.