Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah has announced that 180,000 Pakistanis would perform Hajj this year.
The minister said that they have requested Saudi Minister for Hajj Dr. Bandar bin Mohammad al-Hajjar to increase the Hajj quota for Pakistan by 20,000 persons. He said that arrangements will be made that 40,000 Pakistani would directly reach Medina this year.
Talking to journalists on a dinner at the residence of Counsel General of Pakistan Aftab Khokhar, he said that the ministry was trying to hire multi-storey buildings instead of small ones this year to facilitate the pilgrims.
He said that new technology Radio Frequency Identify (RFID) system will be introduce to track down the missing pilgrims, by affixing a chip with their identity cards.
The minister said that the ministry received complaints against 70 tour operators who did not entertained the hujaj in accordance with the contract last year. This time they just let them go by only giving them warning. Moreover, Saudi minister for Hajj have been requested to ensure installation of air-conditioners in the pilgrims’ residences, increase number of washrooms and make satisfactory residential arrangements for pilgrims, Khursheed Shah added.
Meanwhile, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah held a meeting with Saudi Minister for Hajj Dr. Bandar bin Mohammad al-Hajjar at the Ministry of Hajj office here on Saturday and discussed affairs related to Hajj. The minister was accompanied by a team comprising of senior Pakistani functionaries including Mohammed Azam Samma, Secretary Ministry of Religious Affairs, Muhammad Naeem Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, Aftab A Khokher, Consul General of Pakistan at Jeddah, Director General Hajj, Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Syed Rafeo Bashir Shah, Director Pakistan Hajj Mission and Bahrullah Hazarvi, Director in the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
The minister who is heading Pakistani delegation arrived here last night. He was received at the airport by Consul General Aftab A Khokher and Representative of Saudi Haj Ministry.
The Saudi Minister for Hajj was accompanied by a team comprising Deputy Minister Sahal Sabban as well as Farooq Bokhari, Chairman Maktabul Vokala al-Mawhid, Dr. Rafay Ismail Badr, Chairman Moassasah Mutiwwify Hujjaj South Asia and Maj Gen. Ahmad Sambba, Chairman Naqabatus Sayyarat.
Three Directors General of the Ministry of Hajj from Makkah Mukarammah and Madinah Munawarrah were also present.
The Saudi Minister for Hajj welcomed his Pakistani counterpart to the annual bilateral ministerial meeting held for the purpose of various issues relating to the performance of Hajj 1434/ 2013 by Pakistani hujjaj.
He also praised Saudi leadership for the numerous steps being taken and for upgrading the Umra and Hajj experiences of pilgrims from all over the world. Numerous issues relating to better services for Hujjaj were discussed.
The Saudi side stressed upon a continuous improvement of the pre-arrival training of Pakistani hujjaj and also improved operational mechanism which further limited any discomfort to hujjaj like delays of buses between Jeddah airport and Makkah.
In the end Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah invited Bandar bin Muhammad Hajjar to visit Pakistan along with his team and this invitation was gladly accepted. The meeting ended with an exchange of gifts and souvenirs and profuse vote of thanks.