Prime Minister Imran Khan formally inaugurated the Road to Makkah project on Friday at the Islamabad International Airport (IIA), reported Radio Pakistan, on the occasion of the departure of first PIA Haj flight.
The premier was given a detailed briefing on the project under which the immigration and relevant processes for intending pilgrims are being completed at Islamabad airport.
A spokesperson of the Ministry of Religious Affairs said that the project "is a gift from Saudi Arabia to Pakistani intending pilgrims and 21,000 Hujjaj will benefit from this initiative."
On Thursday, for the first time, Saudi immigration staff conducted immigration process of 368 Pakistani pilgrims at IIA as the Haj flight operation from Pakistan started. The first flight of Saudi Airlines (SV-3719) with the 368 pilgrims on board took off for Madina at 11am.
Before going through the immigration process, the pilgrims were also administered polio drops.
A Saudi immigration team had arrived in Islamabad earlier in the week and set up special immigration counters at the airport.
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 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 as of now.