A team from Saudi Arabia arrived in Islamabad on Monday to begin the process for the provision of immigration facilities to Pakistani pilgrims under the Road to Makkah project, Radio Pakistan reported.
Under the Road to Makkah project initiated by Saudi Arabia, all immigration requirements are fulfilled at the airport of origin. The project also includes other Muslim countries, such as Indonesia and Malaysia.
According to an earlier statement from a spokesperson of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, 90 per cent of Pakistani pilgrims will go through customs and immigration processes at the airports in Pakistan before leaving for Haj, instead of having to wait for 10-12 hours after arriving in Saudi Arabia.
The equipment required for immigration clearance has been installed in the Islamabad Airport's departure lounge and 10 special counters have been set up where the Saudi team, along with Pakistani authorities, will carry out the immigration process. The Saudi team will start operations within two to three days.
The authorities will complete the immigration process and screen the travel documents and luggage of pilgrims at the Islamabad airport. The pilgrims will not have to wait at airports in Saudi Arabia for immigration or their luggage, which will be transported to their place of stay.
This is the initial stage of the project and about 20,000 people will benefit under the pilot phase. The service will be provided to pilgrims travelling from Karachi and Lahore airports as well from next year if the project succeeds.