ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Wednesday chaired a meeting on Hajj policy at his office. Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf, Religious Affairs Division secretary, Pakistan ambassador to Saudi Arabia and senior officials were present during the meeting. The prime minister was given a detailed briefing on Hajj operations and efforts being made by the ministry to improve the system. It was informed that the present government, during its tenure, had accorded special attention towards facilitating pilgrimages. “The confidence of the people over the fairness and transparency of the system is clearly reflected through the number of 338,696 applications received in 2017 as compared to 86,919 applications in 2013.” The prime minister expressed satisfaction over improvements made during the last four years. He directed the ministry to immediately convene the Policy Formulation Committee constituted under the directive of the Supreme Court of Pakistan for early finalisation of policy options for Hajj 2018 and its approval from the cabinet after which the process of inviting applications should be started as soon as possible so as to complete the balloting process in-time and ensure timely arrangements and training of intending pilgrimages. He said that special consideration should be given to applicants over the age of 75 years and to those who had apply for the last three consecutive years but were not selected through the balloting process. Matters pertaining to the security of mourners visiting Iran and Iraq were also came under discussion during the meeting. Separately, the premier chaired a high-level meeting on the issue of net hydro profits at his office on Wednesday. The issue of net hydro profits was amicably resolved during the meeting after taking into account the claims of the two provincial governments and modus operandi for the settlement of the amount involved, a statement issued by the PM’s media office said. The meeting was attended by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Punjab’s Minister for Finance Ayesha Ghous Pasha, finance secretaries, water and power divisions, chief secretaries and senior officials of the federal and provincial governments. Published in Daily Times, November 16th 2017.