Prime Minister Imran Khan, on Friday inaugurated the Road to Makkah project at the Islamabad International Airport (IIA).
He also shook hands with the first batch of the pilgrims on their way to the holy land. This Hajj facilitation initiative is a gift for Pakistan from the Saudi Arabia as this year some 21,000 pilgrims would benefit from this initiative.
At the request of Government of Pakistan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia included Pakistan into widely acclaimed Road to Makkah Project after discussions and inspection of security, customs, immigration, airlines and civil aviation arrangements at airports.
Under the project, Pakistani pilgrims will have immigration clearance done at Pakistani airports and they will not have to pass through immigration and custom checking after landing at airports in Saudi Arabia.
However, presently this facility has been started on pilot basis from Islamabad airport and hopefully this would be extended to cover all the airports in future. The spirit of the project was to provide relief to intending pilgrims who had to wait for hours at Jeddah or Madina Munawwara airports because of rush of passengers during Hajj season. In this backdrop, the intending pilgrims heaved a sigh of relief when the Kingdom launched Road to Makkah project aimed at pre-departure immigration. The prime minister was accompanied by Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Saudi Immigration Director-General Major General Suleman Abdul Aziz. It is a combination of memoir and travelogue and tells the story of a convert to Islam who had crossed the spiritual deserts of Europe and the sand deserts of Arabia, on a trek that brought him ultimately to the oasis of Islamic belief.