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Banks to remain open on weekends for Hajj applications

ISLAMABAD: The religious affairs ministry announced on Friday that the 14 designated banks across the country accepting Hajj applications would be open on Saturday and Sunday (March 25 and 26).

According to Ministry spokesperson Muhammad Umar Butt, the decision was made due to a lack of time and a large number of people who planned to submit their Hajj applications and dues in banks during the off days.

“It will also help overseas Pakistanis apply under the Sponsorship Hajj Scheme, which takes nearly two to three business days to transfer funds from abroad into the religious affairs ministry’s foreign currency account,” he said.

Butt stated that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had advised designated financial institutions to remain open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on this particular weekend in response to a ministry letter.

Butt, speaking about Hajj application receipts, stated that the ministry had received over 26,000 applications by March 22.

The number of applicants seeking foreign exchange from abroad through the sponsorship scheme had risen to more than 2,000, he added.

He stated that overseas Pakistanis could also submit a health certificate issued from another country in the bank or provide a medical fitness certificate prior to their Hajj flight. Those who had not yet received the coronavirus vaccine could also apply, he said.

“However, they will have received the entire dose of the vaccine and will have submitted the certificate to the banks prior to their departure to Saudi Arabia.” Aside from NADRA [National Database and Registration Authority], he stated that a foreign vaccine certificate would be acceptable.

Butt made it clear that the person sending sponsorship did not have to be related to the pilgrim by blood. But, he added, it was critical to send the pilgrim’s name, Computerized National Identity Card number, and contact number along with the money.

Butt stated that overseas applicants under the regular scheme should submit their applications to the bank through their nominated persons in Pakistan and that in order to receive the potential savings in the package, they must open a bank account after arriving in Pakistan.

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