Limited Hajj

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AFTER lifting Coronavirus curfew, Saudi Arabia on Mon
day announced it would hold a very limited Hajj this year with pilgrims already in the Kingdom allowed to perform the annual religious ritual. According to the statement issued by Saudi Hajj Ministry, the decision has been made in the light of the increase in Covid-19 cases around the world, the lack of a vaccine and difficulty maintaining a safe physical distance among large numbers of pilgrims coming from overseas.
Indeed, it is a very painful decision not only for the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who were intending to perform the Hajj this year but also for Saudi Arabia as the annual pilgrimage brings billions of dollars to its economy. Nevertheless, it is a very judicious decision on the part of Saudi leadership and definitely taken after detailed and careful deliberations and consideration with the aim to contain the spread of the pandemic. Whilst the Kingdom has managed to organize Hajj during previous viral outbreaks such as Ebola and MERs, the global scale of the Coronavirus pandemic presents a far more difficult challenge. More than two million Muslims perform Hajj every year and a large portion of them comes from overseas. Hence allowing them involves a lot of risk to the spread of infections and deaths as the social distancing is impossible to be observed when the pilgrims especially move for the Hajj obligations to Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa or when they perform Tawaaf of Kaaba. Thus the decision is reflective of Saudi leadership’s concern for the health and safety of the people, and the people of Pakistan fully stand by and endorse the decision. Soon after the breakout of Coronavirus, the Kingdom had immediately imposed tough restrictions including 24-hour curfew in most cities and towns while also banning Umrah. Even now when the restrictions have been lifted, measures such as social distancing and wearing of masks are mandatory. The same kind of utmost care will be required for those performing Hajj this year and we are confident that the Saudi leadership will put in place the best arrangements and safety measures for them.