A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony was held on Tuesday. Chairman Committee, Senator Molana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri chaired the meeting; that was attended by Senator Molvi Faiz Muhammad, Senator Gurdeep Singh, Senator Anwar Lal Dean, Senator Prof. Sajid Mir, Senator Muhammad Akram, Senator Haji Hidayatullah and senior officers of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony. Senator Mohsin Aziz was a Special Invitee.
The agenda entailed consideration of the Guardian and Wards (Amendment) Bill and briefings on the Hajj Policy and policy and proposal for pilgrimage of minorities to their sacred sites. Details of blacklisted tour operators were shared with the Committee.
While discussing the Hajj Policy 2022 the Committee was informed that the Hajj quota will be distributed to a ratio of 60:40 -- 60 percent allocation for Government Hujjaj and 40 percent for tour operators. Hajj quota of 5000 pilgrims has been allocated to 100 new private companies as well. The Hajj quota has been enhanced from 179210 to 200000 Hujjaj. The Ministry said that e-Visa facility will be provided to all Hujjaj. Challenges entailed following of health protocols; acceptance of Chinese vaccinations; Pakistan being kept in the Red list and approvals to upscale the Road to Makkah initiative. Since this will predominantly be an IT based Hajj, finding volunteers that are tuned to rapidly changing IT trends and healthcare practices would be a major concern as well. Taking up the issue of blacklisted Hajj Tour Operators the Committee asserted that a uniform policy must be formulated to deal with irregularities.
Discussing policy and proposal for pilgrimage of minorities, the Committee was of the view that such visits are governed under the laws of host countries and no legal or administrative restrictions for minorities ensue. Minority members of the Committee asserted that the Committee would like details in ways that the Government could facilitate such visits. Senator Gurdeep Singh stressed the need for better administrative measures to facilitate Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan.
Deliberating over the Guardian and Wards (Amendment) Bill 2021, moved by Senator Mohsin Aziz; the Committee was informed that the Council of Islamic Ideology did not support the Bill. The Committee summoned representatives of the Council of Islamic Ideology for further deliberation on the matter in the next meeting.