Pakistan waiting for Saudi announcement on Hajj: Ashrafi

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Religious Harmony Maulana Tahir Ashrafi on Monday said that Pakistan would finalise preparations for Hajj pilgrims as soon as Saudi Arabia announces the Hajj policy for this year.

"Prime Minister Imran Khan has given clear instructions to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Ministry of Health to make all necessary arrangements [for the pilgrims]," Ashrafi said in an interview with Arab News.

“Saudi Arabia has yet to issue a Hajj policy for this year. When Saudi government will announce this year's Hajj policy, we will follow that,” Ashrafi said and explained that facilitating pilgrims in every possible way was the government's priority.

For the first time last year, the Saudi government barred foreigners from traveling to Makkah for pilgrimage due to the coronavirus pandemic, limiting the number to a few Saudi citizens and residents.

Earlier this month, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said talks were underway for the final set of guidelines for foreign visitors, with Riyadh considering an option to allow "a small number of pilgrims" into the Kingdom under strict health and preventive measures, Ashrafi maintained.

Saudi health authorities are continuing to assess conditions and further details will be determined by Covid-19 health controls and standards, he added.

More than 184,000 Pakistanis performed Hajj in 2019, with this year's pilgrimage expected to begin on July 17, Arab news reported while quoting Ashrafi as saying.