The Federal Cabinet of Pakistan has approved substantial amendments to the Hajj Policy for the year 2024. These changes are set to bring about greater flexibility and improved oversight in the pilgrimage process.
One of the key revisions allows private Hajj schemes more leeway concerning the requirement to provide service personnel for individuals over the age of 80. While this condition has been relaxed, it remains mandatory for Hajj organizers to sign an agreement with the pilgrim, guaranteeing the availability of local assistance services throughout their stay in Saudi Arabia.
The terms of this agreement will be included in the service contracts, and any breach could result in penalties, including the blacklisting of the Hajj organizer.
In addition, the Federal Cabinet has decided to reduce the quota for the Hardship Category in Hajj. In a significant step towards community involvement, fifty percent of the local assistant quota will now be reserved for Pakistani students studying in Saudi Arabian universities, who will serve as welfare staff.
Another notable change is the return of unused slots in both government and private Hajj schemes to the Saudi Arabian government. This decision aligns with the regulations set by the Saudi authorities. Moreover, a comprehensive monitoring system will be established to oversee the financial management of Hajj organizers, ensuring transparency and accountability.
The new policy also includes a provision that permits children under the age of 10 to participate in the pilgrimage, allowing families to fulfill their religious obligations together.
These amendments come after the Federal Cabinet had previously formed a committee tasked with proposing improvements to the Hajj Policy. The recommendations from this committee have been integrated into the current policy changes, reflecting the government’s dedication to improving the Hajj experience for its citizens.
The approval of these amendments by the Federal Cabinet signifies a commitment to addressing the needs of pilgrims and streamlining the Hajj process. As the government implements these changes, it is expected that the 2024 Hajj will see a more efficient and supportive environment for those undertaking this significant religious journey.