ISLAMABAD – The government of Pakistan has renewed the Road to Makkah initiative with the government of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to help facilitate the Hajj pilgrims besides requesting extension of Hajj facilitation at different airports of the country.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Dr. Nasser bin Abdul Aziz Al-Dawood, Saudi deputy interior minister in presence of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, federal ministers, and Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Pakistan.
The initiative is part of Saudi Arabia’s Guests of God Service Program, which King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud inaugurated in 2019 under Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030. The agreement is renewed every year with countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, and Bangladesh.
As per the initiative, Hajj pilgrims are issued visas and provided other services, such as baggage facilities, at their respective countries’ airports. Not only that, the pilgrims move directly to buses to take them to their places of residence in Makkah and Madina while their luggage is delivered to them.
Addressing the ceremony organized in this regard, the Saudi deputy interior minister said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoyed historic relations and the people of both countries regard it with respect.
“We wish and hope that our bilateral relations will prosper more, and I pray to the Almighty for a better future for Pakistan,” he said, adding that both sides had meaningful discussions during his visit.
The Saudi deputy interior minister is on a two-day visit to Pakistan to renew the agreement and meet political leaders as well as Army Chief. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said he has requested Saudi authorities to extend the Makkah Route Initiative to airports in Lahore and Karachi next year.
“His excellency [Saudi deputy interior minister] has promised that the number of Pakistani pilgrims who are traveling from Islamabad through Makkah Route Initiative will be increased from 26,000 to 40,000 and for next year, I and the minister of religious affairs have requested to provide this facility from Lahore and Karachi as well,” Sanaullah said.
The interior minister said he had discussed the Saudi government's demands on the case of a Saudi diplomat who was killed in Pakistan. Rana SanaUllah said Pakistan has also requested the kingdom to release Pakistanis languishing in Saudi jails for petty crimes.
“We have discussed the release of Pakistani prisoners who are detained in [Saudi] jails for small offenses and the worthy deputy interior minister assured us that all those Pakistanis will be released soon who did not commit any serious crime,” he highlighted.
The minster said Pakistan would eagerly wait for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to the South Asian country.
Pakistan’s quota for Hajj 2023 is 179,210 pilgrims. It is to be highlighted that 50 percent quota had been reserved for the Sponsorship Scheme which is a special facility given to Hajj pilgrims seeking foreign exchange from abroad in the specific dollar account of the religious affairs ministry.
The government has announced that no balloting would take place for intending Hajj pilgrims this year as the number of applicants falls short of the quota made available to Pakistan.
For this year, the government had set Hajj expenses at Rs1.175 million per pilgrim, 68% more than the last year's expenses which apparently became a reason for many of the Muslims to avoid performing the ritual amid skyrocketing inflation.
As far as the flight operation is concerned, the national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had announced that its pre-Hajj operation would begin on May 21 and continue till August 12 during which it would take 38,000 pilgrims to the Holy land.
PIA has announced to charge fares in US dollars for the second year in a row and fixed the fares for pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia under the private Hajj scheme from $870 to $1180 for the Southern region that includes Karachi, Quetta, Sukkur, Hyderabad.
It is noteworthy that this is the first time Saudi Arabia would be welcoming pilgrims in large numbers i.e around 2.3m after the pandemic restrictions have been lifted. Around one million people joined the 2022 Hajj season and only those in the age bracket 18 to 65 who were fully vaccinated or immunized against the virus and did not suffer from chronic diseases were allowed to visit the kingdom.
KARACHI - Following are the foreign currency exchange rates for US Dollar, Saudi Riyal, UK Pound Sterling, U.A.E. Dirham, European Euro, and other foreign currencies in Pakistan open market on September 25, 2023 (Monday).
Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 09:00 AM)
|UK Pound Sterling||GBP||372.5||376|
|Hong Kong Dollar||HKD||317||320|
|New Zealand Dollar||NZD||174.23||176.23|
KARACHI – The price of a single tola of 24-karat gold in Pakistan is Rs 214,700 on Monday. The price of 10 grams of 24k gold was recorded at Rs184,070.
Likewise, 10 grams of 22k gold were being traded for Rs168,730 while a single tola of 22-karat gold was being sold at Rs196,807.
Note: The gold rate in Pakistan is fluctuating according to the international market so the price is never been fixed. The below rates are provided by local gold markets and Sarafa Markets of different cities.
|Lahore||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Karachi||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Islamabad||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Peshawar||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Quetta||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Sialkot||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Attock||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Gujranwala||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Jehlum||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Multan||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Bahawalpur||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Gujrat||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Nawabshah||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Chakwal||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Hyderabad||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Nowshehra||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Sargodha||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Faisalabad||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|
|Mirpur||PKR 214,700||PKR 2,590|