On Wednesday, sources within the Ministry of Religious Affairs reported that the government has decided to return Pakistan’s quota of Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia due to a shortfall of applications caused by rising inflation.

This year marked the first time a quota for Hajj pilgrimage was available in the country, but the shortage of dollars and rising inflation prevented Pakistanis from applying for Hajj.

The final decision to return the Hajj quota will be made by the federal cabinet. The authorities considered giving the official Hajj quota to private operators after a few applications turned out for the government scheme. However, this option would lead to private operators collecting dollars from the open market, causing unnecessary demand for foreign currency.


Pakistan had been demanding an increase in the Hajj quota, allowing 179,210 pilgrims to 202,000 or 201,000 pilgrims. This year, the country received its complete quota of 179,000 pilgrims after many years but couldn’t utilize it entirely. It’s worth noting that the cost of government-sponsored Hajj is around Rs1.2 million.

Due to an acute shortage of the greenback amid the collapsing economy, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony decided to allocate a 50% special quota in the Government Hajj Scheme-2023 for pilgrims who will pay in US dollars. However, a quota of 89,605 Hajj pilgrims was set under the government scheme, falling short of 9,000 applicants.

The government received 72,869 applicants under the regular scheme and only 8,000 under the sponsorship scheme. Moreover, 28,679 additional applications were received under the official regular scheme against the quota of 44,190. Additional applicants are being sent for Hajj pilgrimage without a lucky draw.

The sources indicated that a total of $235 million is required for the government scheme, some of which will be provided by the sponsorship scheme and the rest by the government.