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In a recent development, the government of Pakistan has chosen to give people more time to apply for Hajj through its sponsorship scheme. The decision comes as a response to a slower-than-expected number of applications,
Under the ‘Sponsorship Scheme Hajj,’ the government has set aside 25,000 seats this year. This initiative allows both overseas Pakistanis and residents within the country to apply for Hajj or sponsor someone else’s journey by paying in US dollars. A unique aspect of this scheme is that applicants won’t have to go through the usual balloting process.
According to sources, only 3,161 applications have been received so far, falling significantly short of the allocated quota of 25,000. Faced with this slow response, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has decided to extend the deadline for submitting Hajj applications by a week to ensure that the entire quota is utilized.
In addition to the sponsorship scheme, sources mentioned that the ministry has received over 63,000 applications under the regular government scheme for Hajj.
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This decision follows a previous extension of the Hajj application deadline by 10 days, from December 12 to 22. It’s important to note that Saudi Arabia had already restored Pakistan’s pre-coronavirus Hajj quota, allowing 179,210 pilgrims to perform the pilgrimage.
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Additionally, the upper age limit of 65 years for participating in Hajj was lifted by Saudi authorities. These adjustments aim to facilitate a more inclusive and accessible Hajj pilgrimage for Pakistani citizens.