The Ministry of Religious Affairs would conduct the ballot for Hajj applications under the government scheme on Tuesday, as relayed by the official spokesperson. It was also mentioned that the draw had been delayed by a day upon the request from banks. He further added that Minister for Religious Affairs, Noor ul Haq Qadri, would ballot from Hajj applications of as many as 216, 542 intending pilgrims this year. The government has directed all banks to complete online entries at the earliest and ensure the accuracy of updated records of pilgrims unsuccessful for the last three years, the official maintained. The authorities have also directed banks to clear cheques and drafts of Hajj pilgrims. On February 25, the government had opened the submission of Hajj applications for this year. Later, an extension in the deadline was announced till March 9, which concluded on Saturday. As many as 200,000 people would perform Hajj from Pakistan this year; 60 per cent have applied under the government scheme, while the remaining would make the journey under private tour operators. On February 21, Federal Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, had announced that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had increased Pakistan’s Hajj quota to 200,000, while also agreeing to Pakistan’s suggestion to offer e-visa service to its pilgrims. Published in Daily Times, March 11th 2019.