ISLAMABAD: Islamabad and Riyadh signed an agreement on Wednesday to initiate the “Road to Makkah” project, aimed at simplifying the immigration process for Pakistanis travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj and Umrah.
Under the agreement, intending pilgrims would be provided with immigration facilities in Pakistan and would be exempted from the process at Saudi airports.
The service would initially be available at Islamabad International Airport, where around 26,000 pilgrims would benefit from the facility, the Prime Minister’s House (PMO) said. It will later be extended to Karachi and Lahore airports.
The agreement was signed at the PMO by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Dr Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Dawood.
Islamabad, Riyadh ink agreement to simplify immigration process for Pakistanis going on pilgrimage
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Saudi Ambassador in Islamabad Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki witnessed the ceremony.
Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Senator Talha Mahmood, Federal Minister for Narcotics Control Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi also attended.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia also signed the joint minutes of a meeting in which they had discussed the issuance of Pakistani passports to the Burmese Muslims residing in Saudi Arabia.
According to details, the passports of Burmese Muslims were not renewed after 2012, which created some difficulties for them in the kingdom.
Under the arrangement, these people and their children would be issued passports to improve their legal status in Saudi Arabia.
As per the discussion, a bilateral committee would be formed comprising the representatives of Saudi Arabia and the interior ministry to work out early issuance of the documents to the Burmese Muslims.
Following the ceremony, the prime minister presented a souvenir to the Saudi dignitary, who also reciprocated the gesture by presenting a memento to Mr Sharif.
PM bashes Imran
Earlier, the prime minister said in a Twitter post that the roots of a “mutinous attack” on the state, its symbols and sensitive installations on May 9 lay in the contents of speeches made by PTI Chairman Imran Khan over the past year.
Mr Khan “has liberally deployed religious imagery to brand his political agitation as a war between truth and falsehood. He has relentlessly maligned and attacked the armed forces and the sitting Army Chief and very cunningly prepared his cult with the slogans of ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ aimed at inciting them for violence we witnessed on May 9,” the premier said in the tweet.
“Listen to his speeches and you will get your answers,” he said, using the hashtag ‘Say No To 9th May’.
Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2023
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