Ministry in charge to finalize return of payments soon
Kingdom’s decision part of anti-virus measures to limit COVID-19 outbreak
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs will refund all Hajj pilgrims under the government scheme, following Saudi Arabia’s decision to limit the annual pilgrimage to a few people this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, authorities said in a statement released on Tuesday.
The decision follows an emergency meeting chaired by the ministry in Islamabad last night wherein it added that “a procedure would be finalized soon to return the payments to intending pilgrims who would be informed via text messages.”
A total of 180,000 Pakistanis were scheduled to perform Hajj this year, out of which 107,526 had registered for the pilgrimage under the government program.
The move follows an announcement by Saudi authorities on Monday said that this year’s Hajj would be limited to 1,000 people to safeguard public health as part of anti-virus measures to limit the spread of the deadly disease.
Pakistan and other Muslim countries welcomed the Kingdom’s decision, saying it was in line with the principles of Shariah.
Last year, for the first time, Pakistan was included in Saudi Arabia’s ‘Road to Makkah’ project which is aimed at facilitating Hajj pilgrims from across the Muslim world.
This was after Prime Minister Imran Khan requested Saudi Arabia to include Pakistan in the project during Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to Islamabad in February last year.