The government has suspended training program for intending Hajj pilgrims as part of a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement on Thursday, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr. Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said the decision has been taken following ban on large gatherings in the country. He said all Haji camps across the country have been informed about this decision.
He also said arrangements for Hajj 2020 are underway as per routine. The government is also in contact with Saudi government in this regard. “The government of Pakistan is in contact with the Saudi government for Hajj 2020”, the minister said in his statement.
He urged religious scholars to play an important role in spreading awareness about the ongoing health emergency in the country. “The religious leaders can play an important role to spread awareness regarding Covid-19. Adding, it is appreciable that religious leaders are cooperating with the government. They are following its advisories regarding religious gatherings and daily prayers,” he said.
Ministry has also said that if any successful candidate wants to withdraw their deposit money for any reason they can do it now. They can also recommend some blood relative to perform hajj on his/her place.
According to a notification of the Ministry, the refund forms could be obtained by clicking www.hajjinfo.org. The forms should be deposited to Account Officer (Refund), Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Kohsar Block, first floor, Pak Secretariat, Islamabad.
The ministry will issue a Refund Authority Letter. It will allow the applicant to get his deposited money back from the relevant bank branch.
After getting the refund, another application should be submitted to Section Officer (Hajj Policy) requesting the permission to allow his/her blood relative as his/her substitute to perform Hajj in Government Hajj Scheme on his place.
The balloting took place last week and picked almost 100,000 pilgrims who would go to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj under the government’s scheme.
Hajj is due in July this year amidst the ongoing coronavirus scare across the globe. For Muslims, it is one of the most important obligations they have to perform during their lifetime.
However, after Saudi Arabia closed off travel to the holy city for Umrah last month, many potential travellers are concerned that Hajj could be affected too. The unprecedented move to cancel Hajj wasn’t even taken during the 1918 flu epidemic that killed tens of millions worldwide.
The Saudi government has already limited travel into the country after the novel coronavirus started spreading throughout the Middle East. On Sunday, the country announced the closure of mosques and announced that Friday prayers would be called off.
Saudi Arabia reported on Wednesday announced 67 new cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections in the Kingdom to 238.