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Govt in talks with Saudi Arabia to allow Umrah, Hajj pilgrims: Minister

Hajj SecurHajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Source: FILE/Onlineity Commander announced that the number of pilgrims has been limited this year due to the corona epidemic

PESHAWAR: Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri has said that Saudi Arabia would soon allow Umrah pilgrims from Pakistan as they are holding talks over the matter.

Speaking during a ceremony in Peshawar, Qadri said that Pakistan is in talks with Saudi Arabia over the resumption of Umrah and Hajj services from the country.

“We are hopeful that soon Umrah pilgrims will be able to visit the Kingdom,” he said. He further said that the government was also working on a Malaysia-based model of Hajj in order to minimize the expenses.

The minister also said the government would not increase Hajj, Umrah expenses and continue efforts to ensure the best possible facilities for pilgrims.

Qadri said coronavirus has gripped the entire world, but now by the grace of Allah and with the cooperation of the nation, the pandemic was under control.

The minister said the government is in contact with the Saudi government, adding that after being unable to perform Hajj twice, there is now hope that the ban would be completely lifted. “I assure the Hajj and Umrah pilgrims that we will do our best to offer them better facilities,” he said.

Saudi Arabia had barred worshippers from abroad for a second year running and had restricted entry from within the kingdom under special conditions to guard against the new variants of the coronavirus.

Only 60,000 Saudi citizens and residents, aged 18 to 65, who were fully vaccinated or recovered from the virus and did not suffer from chronic diseases, were selected for the religious obligation but they had to observe social distancing and wear face masks.