Ministry intends to regulate Umrah activities

F.P Report

ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Pir Muhammad Amin-ul-Hasnat Shah Monday said the ministry intends to introduce a Hajj and Umrah Services Bill in the National Assembly for regulating the Umrah activities.

Responding to a Calling Attention Notice of Ms Naeema Kishwer Khan, Ms Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Ms Surriya Asghar and Ms Kiran Haider in National Assembly, he said the Umrah services would come under the domain of the ministry after passage of the Bill from Parliament.

Currently, the Umrah services are not being controlled by the Ministry.

Regarding biometric of Umrah Zaireen, he said the Umrah Zaireen of over 45 years and below 12 years of age have been exempted from biometric verification.

He said the company engaged by Saudi Government for conducting biometric verification of Umrah Zaireen, has enhanced the number of its offices up to 27 in Pakistan for facilitating the Umrah aspirants. The number of offices would be further increased with the passage of time.

Responding to a question, he said no new hajj quota was being granted to Hajj Group Organisers (HGOs).

The ministry has already cancelled hajj quota of all HGOs and hired the services of Chartered Accountant Firm for assessing the performance of HGOs. After the assessment hajj quota would be allotted on merit basis.

He said a total of 47 cases have been filed in various courts for getting stay of Hajj balloting which was due on January 26.

Ministry had started Hajj arrangement process a month or two earlier for facilitating the Hujjaj but the process was frustrated by  stay orders against conducting hajj balloting.