Qadri says Pakistan prepared to send limited Hajj pilgrims

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia has not announced a Hajj policy for this year yet, however, Pakistan has kept complete arrangements to send limited pilgrims for Hajj, says Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr Noorul Haq Qadri.

Talking to Voice of America (VOA) during a special interview with Ali Furqan, Qadri said that this year’s Hajj would be a bit costlier as compared to the expenses incurred on the Hajj pilgrimage last year due to adequate COVID-19 SOPs, however, an exact estimation can only be made after final announcement by Saudi Arabia regarding SOPs and number of pilgrims.

It would not be possible for Saudi Arabia to make normal arrangements as there’s a little time left for Hajj. He said Saudi Arabia will be able to make limited arrangements, but it has not confirmed the number of pilgrims.

Qadri illustrated that the Pakistan government is in contact with Saudi authorities and Saudi Arabia also wanted to take major Muslim countries in confidence before a final decision. He said that Saudi Arabia was making strict SOPs to counter coronavirus during Hajj, and Pakistan will be ensuring implementation of these coronavirus SOPs.

‘Pakistan can handle Hajj arrangements’

He further said that all pilgrims would have to take negative COVID-19 tests before departure and upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, all pilgrims will have to do a 3-day quarantine.

A coronavirus test will also be mandatory on arrival in Madina from Makkah and on returning back to Makkah.

According to the federal minister, there will be a specific time for every country to perform Tawaf-e-Ziarat and Umrah in the Haram to avoid rush. The minister said, “Pakistan has the capability to complete arrangements in a short time on allotment of Hajj quota by Saudi Arabia.”

‘Pakistan will convince Saudi Arabia to recognise Chinese coronavirus vaccine’

Regarding the issue of Saudi Arabia’s denial to accept the Chinese vaccine, the minister said, “Pakistan will convince Saudi Arabia to recognise Chinese vaccine as WHO has approved the Sinopharm vaccine of China and most Pakistanis have been administered with the Chinese vaccine.”

In the proposed Hajj policy, Saudi Arabia has recommended vaccines including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson’s.