SAUDI Arabia announced on Saturday to limit registration for this year’s Hajj to citizens and residents of the Kingdom in view of Corona Virus pandemic.
The Saudi Ministries of Health and Hajj said that a total of sixty thousand pilgrims would be allowed to perform Hajj this year, which will begin mid-July.
It will be the second year in a row that the Kingdom hosts a downscaled Hajj amid the pandemic. We understand that this is a painful decision not only for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims intending to perform Hajj this year but also for Saudi leadership.
However, it stems from the utmost attention that the Kingdom gives to health and safety of pilgrims. Islam also emphasizes on observing all safety precautions during such pandemics.
Since Hajj typically packs millions of pilgrims into religious sites such as Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa or when the pilgrims perform Tawaf of Kaaba, therefore observing social distancing in such an environment is next to impossible and this could be a major source of contagion.
The decision of allowing only a limited number of people from within the KSA, is judicious and reflective of Saudi leadership’s commitment to avoid spread of the pandemic. Pakistan, as always, stands by and endorses the Saudi decision.
Since Pakistan is amongst the country from where most number of pilgrims go to the KSA, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud also telephoned Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and apprised him of the challenges of organising the Hajj with a big gathering.
Qureshi conveyed his understanding of the situation and expressed confidence in the decision taken in public interest by the KSA.
This shows level of trust and understanding that exists between the two countries and we are confident that this relationship will be taken to new heights by promoting cooperation in diverse fields.
Saudi Arabia indeed deserves appreciation for steps it has taken to combat the pandemic. It has also set the SOPs for pilgrims who will perform the Hajj this year.
As mass vaccination campaigns have been started across the world including Pakistan, we are confident that with the blessing of God Almighty the situation will return to normalcy next year, enabling Saudi Arabia to host the Hajj in same manner as it used to before the breakout of Covid-19.