LAHORE - While most of the Pakistanis perform Umrah as a religious duty, there are many who go for the pilgrimage to get opportunity to earn "easy money" through begging.

The Saudi  authorities have identified many such people and are deporting them, official sources told TheNation here on Monday.

An FIA Deputy Director posted at the Lahore Airport has sent a report to the Interior Ministry highlighting the activities of such people while in Saudi Arabia and the way they are bringing a bad name to their country.

It is said that only last month about 100 Pakistani beggars were deported from Saudi Arabia on emergency passports after they were arrested on account of overstay and being involved in begging.

All of them confessed during the investigations to have gone to Saudi Arabia to earn money through begging.

 Seventy-seven "beggar-pilgrims" were deported to Lahore alone last month. Of them, 29 arrived on March 1, 30 on March 19, 18 on March 21 and 20 on April 13.  Their confessional statements were recorded by the immigration authorities.

According to sources, they told the FIA that they had been sent to Saudi Arabia by one Ehtisham, a travel agent, for the purpose of begging.

The deportees included men and women. Some of them were also jailed in Saudi Arabia before being sent back to Pakistan.

An Umrah visa is valid only for a month. The overstayers are deported and their travel agent fined by the relevant authorities.

According to an official, these "beggar- pilgrims" were all able-bodied. In Saudi Arabia, such people tell other pilgrims their 'sorry' tales to seek their financial help. Many of them concoct similar stories. 

According to some people, such cases are seen even in Holy Kaaba and Masjid-i-Nabvi (PBUH) and other Holy places like , Ghar-e-Hira, Maidan-e-Arafat, Safa-o-Marwa and outside the Haramain. 

These ‘beggar pilgrims’ posed to be cheated by someone or have lost their passport and then they were supposed to go back to their homeland and they needed some money.

An FIA officer said that the travel agent Ehtisham was an influential man and he has connections in Ministry of Interior and after being blacklisted by Saudi Arabian authorities he gets his travel agency cleared again.

Deputy Director Immigration,Lahore Airport through a letter has put the matter into the notice of DG FIA and said that these people were bringing a bad name to Pakistan so they must be stopped by blacklisting their travel agent.

He said that after blacklisting of such travel agents and if they get themselves involved in such practices, FIA would be in legal position to take action against such travel agents.