Federal Minister for Communications and Postal Services, Mufti Asad Mahmood on Sunday held balloting for 31,253 successful pilgrims out of total 63, 604 applicants who wanted to perform the religious obligation through the government Hajj scheme. Addressing the press conference along with Minister for Housing Maulana Abdul Wasay, Religious Affairs Ministry Secretary Sardar Ajaz Ahmad Khan Jaffar and Joint Secretary Usman Sarosh Alvi at the Press Information Department, he said due to COVID-19 and other domestic issues, the Hajj process had been delayed. In addition, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah had not provided the details of mandatory Hajj expenses yet, he said, adding as soon as the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony receive the details, it would publicize the total cost of Hajj. He said the Saudi government had given the deadline of May 16, to complete all the codal formalities related to Hajj. Religious Affairs Minister Mufti Abdul Shakoor and Additional Secretary Aftab Akbar Durrani were already on Saudi Arabia’s visit in a bid to settle down all the issues on a war footing, he added. He said due to time constraints and lack of mandatory Hajj expenses, the religious ministry could not seek the federal cabinet’s seal of approval on the total cost of Hajj and designated quotas to the government and private Hajj schemes. Asad said after the announcement of mandatory Hajj expenses by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umah and approval of Hajj Policy by the government, the total numbers of government Hajj scheme and Hajj cost would be announced. He said those who could not proceed for Hajj due to certain reasons, the people in waiting queue would be provided chance as per seniority list. All the aspirant pilgrims would be provided seniority numbers through short message service on their contact numbers provided in the Hajj applications, he added. He said finally, the successful pilgrims would be asked to submit remaining dues in their designated branches of banks while the unsuccessful applicants could obtain their token money Rs50,000 without seeking permission from the religious affairs ministry. He said despite COVID-19 vaccination and 65 years age restrictions and huge Hajj expenses, a large number of people chose Government Hajj Scheme to perform the religious obligation expressing their confidence in the incumbent government. Asad expressed the hope that in coming years, the Saudi government would remove the age restriction and enhance Pakistan’s Hajj quota besides decreasing the expenses. He urged all the intending pilgrims to learn the Hajj rites and other religious issues before proceeding for Hajj to the Holy Land. He further said personal smart phones were mandatory for the pilgrims, who would have to download and learn the two approved mobile applications Tawakkalna and Eatmarna as per instructions of the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Ummah. Religious Affairs Ministry Director General Syed Mushahid Hussain Khalid hosted the event while Punjab Information Technology Board Additional Director General Saima Sheikh provided the technical assistance for the Hajj balloting.