Pakistani govt will charge Hajj expenses in US dollar

ISLAMABAD: Religious Affairs Minister Talha Mehmood has announced that all those intending to perform Hajj next year will have to pay their expenses in US dollars and not in Pakistani rupees.

Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad after returning from Saudi Arabia, Mehmood said that the Hajj quota for the next year has been increased to 179,210. He said that 160,000 Pakistanis performed Hajj this year.

This year, Saudi Arabia witnessed the largest crowd of pilgrims and Pakistani pilgrims complained about diffuculties during their journey. Complaints were lodged by Pakistanis in Muni, Muzdalifah and Arafat.

However, the minister said that no “major mishaps” took place this year, and that pilgrims “expressed complete satisfaction with the arrangements” made by the Pakistani government.

When asked about the controversy surrounding President Arif Alvi’s visit to Saudi Arabia, who took a heavy entourage with him to perform Hajj, the minister declined to comment. He said that he had no clue about the number of people accompanying the president as he was not part of the “royal entourage”.

“I preferred to perform Hajj as an ordinary man despite being offered to perform Hajj as a royal guest,” he said. “As long as I am the minister, I will not allow anyone to perform ‘free’ Hajj. I paid all my expenses from my pocket”.

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