RAWALPINDI: A Saudi delegation visited Islamabad International Airport on Wednesday and held talks with immigration and civil aviation officials on the arrangements for immigration of Pakistani pilgrims before departing for Haj.
During Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s recent visit to Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan had requested him to allow Haj pilgrims to undergo immigration and customs clearance at three airports of Pakistan before leaving for Saudi Arabia.
The immigration and customs clearance of Haj pilgrims at Pakistani airports would save several hours being spent previously at Saudi airports.
According to sources, it has been decided that the Saudi authorities will install their own system at Pakistani airports and will carry out immigration and security checks before embarkation of Haj pilgrims on the plane.
“Yes, the Saudi officials will perform the immigration process and final security checks right outside the doors of the plane,” a senior official of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told Dawn.
He said the Pakistani authorities would perform immigration, security check and customs of all Haj pilgrims in the international departure lounge and the Saudi authorities would perform immigration, security check after leaving the passenger lounge and right at the doors of the plane.
“They would also be authorised to check the baggage as well,” he said, adding that the Saudi immigration and security teams will arrive in Pakistan after the flight schedule for Haj pilgrims is finalised.
The Saudi delegation led by Major General Suleman Abdul Aziz, accompanied by immigration and security officials, had arrived in the federal capital on Monday for talks with FIA’s immigration and aviation officials. The Saudi officials will bring with them tools (machinery) and manpower for doing immigration and customs clearance of Haj pilgrims.
Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2019