Pakistan and Saudi Arabia officially signed an agreement on Wednesday for the implementation of the groundbreaking “Road to Makkah” project that aims to simplify the immigration process for pilgrims intending to perform Hajj and Umrah, making their journey more convenient and hassle-free.
The accord was signed at the Prime Minister House during the visit of Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Interior Minister, Dr Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Dawood to Pakistan.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Saudi Ambassador in Islamabad, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, while the document was signed by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and the Saudi deputy interior minister.
Road to Makkah Project
Under the agreement, Pakistani Hajj and Umrah pilgrims will be provided with immigration facilities in Pakistan, eliminating the need for the same process at Saudi airports. The service will initially be available at the Islamabad International Airport, benefiting approximately 26,000 pilgrims in the first phase. Furthermore, the Saudi authorities have assured that this facility will be extended to airports in Karachi and Lahore in the future.
After the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Shehbaz presented a souvenir to the Saudi dignitary, who reciprocated the gesture by presenting a memento to the prime minister. During a conversation with the Saudi deputy minister for the interior, Prime Minister Shehbaz expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia for including Pakistan in the “Road to Makkah” initiative.
The Saudi minister showed his gratitude to Pakistan for the warm hospitality while confirming that the project would be extended to Lahore and Peshawar next year, further facilitating Pakistani pilgrims in fulfilling their important religious obligations.
Prime Minister Shehbaz also extended appreciation to the Kingdom for its support during last year’s devastating floods and for assisting in the safe evacuation of stranded Pakistanis in Sudan amidst the deteriorating law and order situation.
In addition to the “Road to Makkah” project, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia also signed joint minutes of the meeting discussing the issuance of Pakistani passports to Burmese Muslims residing in Saudi Arabia. It was revealed that the passports of Burmese Muslims had not been renewed since 2012, causing difficulties for them in the Kingdom. To address this issue, a bilateral committee will be formed consisting of representatives from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan’s interior ministry, working towards the early issuance of documents for Burmese Muslims and their children.