AS the Hajj flights are about to commence in a matter of a few days, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement on Wednesday to initiate the Road to Makkah project aimed at simplifying the immigration process for Pakistanis travelling to the Kingdom for performance of Hajj. Under the agreement, all the immigration requirements will be fulfilled at Islamabad airport. This will save pilgrims several hours upon reaching the kingdom since they can just enter the country, having gone through immigration already at home.
This Saudi initiative was launched in 2019 by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is amongst only a few countries where it has been implemented which signify the close relationship and the affection the two countries have for each other. Initially the latest agreement with Saudi Arabia will facilitate about twenty six thousand Pakistani pilgrims that will travel through Islamabad airport but we expect that it will be extended to other airports as well. Visiting Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Dr Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz Al Dawood also gave an assurance in this regard that the Road to Makkah will be extended to Lahore and Karachi as well. This is really welcoming but we will suggest that the project is extended to all the Pakistani airports from where the pilgrims fly to the holy land. Given the facilitation it entails, the Pakistani pilgrims in the past have greatly hailed this project which is yet another manifestation of how much importance the Kingdom gives to the facilitation of the pilgrims. Also the way Saudi leadership has been making excellent arrangements for Hajj rather than bringing further improvement every year is really commendable. Making arrangements for millions of pilgrims is not at all an easy task but the Kingdom is fulfilling this responsibility in an immaculate manner. We also expect that our Ministry of Religious Affairs will also leave no stone unturned to facilitate the stay of Pakistani pilgrims in the Kingdom during Hajj season.