During a National Assembly session on Tuesday, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Senator Talha Mahmood, confirmed that there will be no free Hajj this year for ministers or parliamentarians.
He stated that MPs would be staying in tents or similar accommodations with other pilgrims and would not be given VIP facilities. The minister also warned employees overseeing the Hajj operation that he would recommend punishment for anyone caught stealing in Saudi Arabia.
He clarified that while Zamzam water is still free, the government of Saudi Arabia is charging for its packaging. The minister shared that the total number of applications received for this year’s Hajj fell short of the quota made available to Pakistan, and no balloting would take place.
The Hajj expenses for this year have been set at Rs1.175 million per pilgrim, 68% more than last year’s expenses. Saudi Arabia is welcoming around 2.3 million pilgrims this year, the largest number since the pandemic restrictions have been lifted.
Only those aged between 18 to 65 who were fully vaccinated or immunized against the virus and did not suffer from chronic diseases were allowed to visit the kingdom for the 2022 Hajj season.