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

Is there a plan?
Updated 06 Dec, 2022

Is there a plan?

The ball currently is in Imran's court, but it appears he is stumped as to what to do with it.
Riverfront concerns
06 Dec, 2022

Riverfront concerns

THE door-to-door drive being launched by a group of landowners to mobilise affected communities against what they...
Morality police out
06 Dec, 2022

Morality police out

FOR several months, Iran has been rocked by unprecedented protests, sparked by the death on Sept 16 of Mahsa Amini, ...
Extension legacy
Updated 05 Dec, 2022

Extension legacy

The practice of having individuals carry on well beyond their time is up.
Dodging accountability
05 Dec, 2022

Dodging accountability

A WARNING carried in these pages in August appears to have gone completely unheeded. Months ago, as the government...
Double standards
05 Dec, 2022

Double standards

IN a globalised world, if states fail to protect the human rights of their citizens, or worse, participate in ...