ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have signed the Haj agreement 2012, increasing Haj quota up to 10,000 pilgrims.

Pakistan Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah said that his country’s request for an additional quota of 10,000 pilgrims to Saudi Minister for Haj Bandar Al-Hajjar was positively received following talks between the two Ministers in Jeddah the other day.

The two ministers discussed many issues at the Ministry of Haj office in Jeddah.  Al-Hajjar also approved Pakistan’s request for the use of Mashair train facility by all Pakistani pilgrims. The Pakistani Minister said this year the Pakistani pilgrims would also be allowed to take guided tours of Jeddah during their stay in the Kingdom.

Numerous other issues relating to better services for Hajis were discussed. The Saudi side stressed on a continuous improvement of the pre-arrival training of Pakistani pilgrims and also sought improved operational mechanism, which further reduced any discomfort to the pilgrims, like delays of buses between Jeddah airport and Makkah. To ensure quality food for Hajis, the Saudi side insisted that local authorities should supervise the catering services.

Al-Hajjar welcomed his Pakistani counterpart to the annual bilateral Ministerial meeting.

On his part,Khursheed Shah praised Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Crown Prince Naif and the Saudi government for numerous steps being taken for the constant improvement of services provided to pilgrimsd.