Pakistan’s Economic Crisis: Hajj quota given up to Saudi Arabia
For the first time in 75 years, Pakistan has made the decision to surrender its Hajj quota to Saudi Arabia. This move was prompted by the rising inflation in the country, which has caused thousands of Pakistanis to forgo the pilgrimage this year. In total, Pakistan has returned 8,000 unused seats, which will save the government a considerable amount of money totalling $24 million.
Hajj quota given up to Saudi Arabia: Key Points
- The Ministry of Religious Affairs has confirmed that the government scheme quota has been returned.
- This decision was aimed at saving millions of dollars, which would have been required to accommodate the pilgrims, as Pakistan is currently facing a significant inflation crisis.
- The federal government had previously stated that there would be no balloting for hajj applicants, as they anticipated a shortage in applications.
- As a result, Pakistan was given the full share for the pilgrimage this year, following the government’s long-standing demand to increase the quota.
Pakistan Working with IMF
Pakistan is currently working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to conclude a ninth review of a bailout programme. Since February, Pakistan and the IMF have been in discussions regarding fiscal policy measures, which will ensure the stalled funding of $1.1 billion due in November from a $6.5 billion programme, which was agreed in 2019.
The current inflation rate in Pakistan is at an all-time high of 36.4%, making IMF funding crucial to prevent default on external payment obligations. The current IMF programme aims to distribute an additional $1.4 billion for Pakistan before concluding in June.