RAWALPINDI: For the first time, Saudi immigration staff conducted immigration process of 368 Pakistani pilgrims at Islamabad International Airport (IIA) under the Road to Makkah project as the Haj flight operation from Pakistan started on Thursday.

Before going through the immigration process, the pilgrims were also administered polio drops.

The pilgrims were seen off by Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Saudi Ambassador Nawaf Bin Said Al Malki and Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri.

Ghulam Sarwar said Prime Minister Imran Khan played an important role by requesting the Saudi crown prince to get Pakistan included in the Road to Makkah project to facilitate the pilgrims.

He said this year 22,000 Pakistani pilgrims would avail of the pre-departure immigration facility.

Pakistan was included in the project during Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to Islamabad in February.

Under the project, pilgrims traveling from Pakistan would be able to clear immigration at Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar though the facility has started at the IIA only.

A Saudi immigration team arrived in Islamabad earlier in the week and set up special immigration counters at the airport.

The first flight of Saudi Airlines (SV-3719) with the 368 pilgrims on board took off for Madina at 11am on Thursday. Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to formally inaugurate the Road to Makkah project at the IIA on the occasion of the departure of first PIA Haj flight on Friday.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2019

Opinion

Editorial

March in Pindi
Updated 26 Nov, 2022

March in Pindi

WITH the chief’s appointment out of the way and the army intent on staying out of politics, the fight is now down...
Tough IMF position
26 Nov, 2022

Tough IMF position

THE IMF has made it clear that Pakistan’s “timely finalisation of the [flood] recovery plan” — the key ...
The youth vote
26 Nov, 2022

The youth vote

PAKISTAN is an overwhelmingly young nation, with about 64pc of the population under 30. Yet our political system has...
Hard reset
Updated 26 Nov, 2022

Hard reset

IT is done. What should have been a routine matter in simpler times had this year become a vortex that seemingly...
Order of precedence
25 Nov, 2022

Order of precedence

IN Pakistan as well as abroad, there are few illusions about who actually calls the shots in this country. This...
Politicised police
25 Nov, 2022

Politicised police

AN important case is being heard at the Supreme Court these days, whose outcome could have a far-reaching impact on ...