On Wednesday, it was revealed that the first Hajj flight from Pakistan for the current pilgrimage would depart on May 20. Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, was informed of this by Secretary for Religious Affairs Aftab Akbar Durrani, who emphasized that the Hajj fight operation would come to an end on June 21. He added that the ministry had requested valid passports from travelers by April 28 while the biometric verification of pilgrims will be finished by that date. The officer informed the group that participation in the Hajj training sessions held at the Tehsil and District levels was required. Starting on Thursday, all ten Haji Camps across the nation would be conducting training sessions on Hajj rituals and administrative matters. As the meeting’s moderator, Minister Talha also briefed the attendees on his recent engagements in Saudi Arabia and instructed them not to skimp on the facilities offered to pilgrims. The application deadline for this year’s Hajj for Pakistani pilgrims expired on April 9 for the Sponsorship Scheme and April 2 for the ordinary Hajj Scheme. The number of applicants does not meet the quota made available to Pakistan, hence the administration has declared that there will be no balloting for intended Hajj pilgrims this year. Pakistan has a quota of 179,210 pilgrims for the Hajj in 2023. It should be noted that a 50% quota had been set aside for the Sponsorship Scheme, a particular service provided to Hajj pilgrims looking to get foreign currency from overseas, in the designated dollar account of the Religious Affairs Ministry. The government set the cost of attending the Hajj at Rs1.175 million per pilgrim this year, which is 68% more expensive than last year’s costs. Apparently, this increased cost led many Muslims to decide not to perform the ritual in the face of skyrocketing inflation. Regarding the flight operation, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the country’s flag airline, had previously declared that its pre-Hajj operation would start on May 21 and last until August 12 during which it would transport 38,000 pilgrims to the Holy Land. The price for pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia under the private Hajj system has been set by PIA at $870 to $1180 for the Southern region, which includes Karachi, for the second year in a row. It is noteworthy that Saudi Arabia is now able to accommodate 2.3 million pilgrims for the first time since the epidemic travel restrictions were abolished. One million individuals participated in the 2022 Hajj season, however only those between the ages of 18 and 65 who had completed their immunisations against the virus and had no chronic illnesses were permitted to travel to the country.