ISLAMABAD - Children below the age of 10 years may be barred from performing Haj from next year. The subject came up for discussion during a recent meeting between the heads of pilgrim establishments and the Saudi Haj Ministry.

No decision has yet been taken on the proposal, it is only a point of discussion at the moment, reported Al-Watan newspaper on Sunday.

The proposal stemmed from the fact that rising temperatures and a very high density of people at the holy sites during the annual pilgrimage put children at risk. In addition, there is a great possibility of children's catching infections.

The Haj Ministry's field teams discovered hundreds of children, almost two-thirds of them under the age of six, at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and other holy sites during this year's Haj. The ministry estimated their number at between 5,000 and 7,000. Many of these children had fallen ill from the strain on their fragile bodies.