Saudi Arabia adds Pakistan in "Road to Makkah Project"

Saudi Arabia adds Pakistan in

ISLAMABAD - Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri has said government is striving hard to provide best facilities to Pakistani intending pilgrims.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad this evening, he said Saudi authorities have agreed to include Pakistan into their road to Makkah project to complete immigration procedure at Karachi and Lahore airports. He said the government is trying to get this facility extended to Peshawar and Islamabad as well.

The Minister said that Saudi Hajj authorities are also working out on Pakistan's demand of providing e-visa facility to Pakistan's pilgrims.

He said this time direct flights will be operated from Quetta to Madina and Jeddah. He said fresh meal of Pakistani taste will be served to pilgrims during their stay at Mashair.

Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said a temporary Haji Camp will be established at Gilgit for the facilitation of intending pilgrims from Gilgit-Baltistan and mobile biometric verification will be done in far flung areas of the country.

The Minister said social media will be used to guide and train intending pilgrims.

Shedding light on reasons behind raise in Hajj package under government scheme, Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said increase in currency exchange rate, Saudi taxes, train fare during Mashair and higher air fare and buildings' rent have caused rise in cost.

The Minister said cost of government hajj scheme in terms of dollar is still the lowest among regional countries in terms of dollar.

He said there are reports that some private Hajj tour operators are offering Hajj package less than the government scheme, which is totally baseless. He said any intending pilgrim should only contact registered tour operators.