The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

30,000 Afghan pilgrims to attend Hajj this year, minister

KABUL: Addressing a press conference here in Kabul, the Acting Minister of Hajj and Islamic Affairs Dr. Noor Mohammad Saqib said that 30,000 Afghan pilgrims will participate in the hajj ceremony in the current solar year, according to a statement from the ministry the other day. Dr. Saqib said among the 30,000 individuals, there are also supervisors of martyrs and government employees, according to the statement. Regarding the allocation of quotas and expenses for Afghan pilgrims in the current year, the Hajj minister assured that the allocated quota had been distributed transparently and fairly among the applicants for Hajj across the country. “The Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs strives to provide necessary facilities and amenities for Afghan pilgrims in Mecca and Medina and contracts have been signed with Ariana Airlines and the private company Kam Air to transfer and dispatch Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia,” the statement quoted Dr. Saqib as saying. He said besides common people, Mujahidin, personnel of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) administration, heirs of martyrs disabled and migrants had been considered in the Hajj quota. Dr. Saqib further added that 3,865 U.S. dollars accounted for 277,000 Afghani estimated as Hajj cost for each traveler, adding that individuals from the Shia sect will have to pay an additional 50 U.S. dollars. The Hajj minister according to the statement, went on as saying that Saudi Arabia allocated the Hajj quota for 30,000 Afghans this year and talks had been held with Saudi officials for the increase of the Hajj quota for Afghans. Minister Saqib said that gathering points at the Zone level had been organized and this year Hajj flights will take off from four zones — Kabul, Herat, Balkh, and Kandahar. According to the minister, contracts with companies in Saudi Arabia had been inked based on which Afghan pilgrims would be provided with transport, residency and other facilities. Meanwhile, Mawlavi Attaullah Khadem, head of the Hajj, Umra Department, said 3,941 Mujahidin will perform Hajj this year. He added an exact number was not known so far but an estimated 8,000 women will also perform Hajj this year. He said this year 3,843 persons had registered for Hajj, adding that 50,000 persons who earlier registered still awaited their turn. He said the first Hajj flight will take place on the first date of Zulqaida from Kabul to Saudi Arabia. It is pertinent to mention that last year Saudi Arabia provided 30,000 Hajj quota to Afghanistan. At the end, Dr. Saqib said that the ministry, for better management of the Hajj process, has established excellent coordination with all domestic ministries and relevant institutions in the country and related authorities in Saudi Arabia. Also, 30,000 pilgrims including 8,000 women participated in the hajj ceremony last year. Javed Husain

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.