ISLAMABAD: Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Dr. Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Dawood Tuesday arrived in Pakistan on a two-day official visit.
The Saudi dignitary will ink a landmark agreement on “Road to Makkah Project” that would ensure seamless and hassle-free sojourn for the Haj pilgrims. The facility will be in place from this year’s Haj. The project is a Saudi initiative which will benefit the intending pilgrims, as the immigration and relevant processes for the holy journey are being completed at the local airports of the intending pilgrims instead of passing through cumbersome procedures at the Saudi airports. The initiative will be started in major cities under which the pilgrims will get hassle-free immigration.
Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Saeed Al Maliki took personal interest in concluding the agreement and had several meetings with senior authorities in Pakistan, including Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, and undertook journey to the Kingdom. The road to Makkah Project was initially started in 2019. It was launched in five countries including Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, and Bangladesh. According to the Saudi mission, the authorities will complete all the immigration processes and check the travel documents and baggage of pilgrims at Pakistan’s airports so they won’t have to wait for 10-12 hours after arriving in Saudi Arabia. After their arrival, the pilgrims will move directly to the buses which will take them to their residences in Makkah and Madina.
The authorities will deliver the pilgrims luggage to their residences safely. The project will provide the pilgrims with a hassle-free journey and save their time that is wasted during the customs and immigration processes upon their arrival.
For the first time, the Saudi immigration staff cleared 368 Pakistani pilgrims at the airport early this year. Initially, the facility was provided at the Islamabad Airport; however, in June last year Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed the hope that the initiative will be extended to other cities of Pakistan to facilitate the pilgrims.
The project is commencing from the Islamabad Airport and is expected to benefit 42,000 pilgrims this year. The Saudi deputy interior minister was received by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan at the Noor Khan Airbase. According to a release, the initiative is expected to mark a major milestone in simplifying and streamlining the immigration processes for pilgrims, ensuring a seamless and hassle-free experience. In addition to the signing ceremony, Dr. Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Dawood is also expected to hold meetings with Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir, Federal Minister for Narcotics Control Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti and other senior officials concerned.