ISLAMABAD    -   Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that he would request Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to extend Road-to-Makkah facility for all Pakistani Hajj pilgrims in future.

The prime minister said this while chairing a briefing given to him on the Hajj operations by his Advisor Muhammad Shahzad Arbab here at his office.

The Prime Minister thanked the Saudi government for introducing Road-to-Makkah facility to some Hajj pilgrims this year under which they went through pre-departure immigration at Islamabad International Airport easing procedures for them before landing in Saudi Arabia.

Shahzad had been especially tasked by the prime minister to oversee the Hajj operations who apprised him about the arrangements made to facilitate the pilgrims before, during and after Hajj. Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Nur-ul-Haq Qadri, Secretary Religious Affairs, Secretary Foreign affairs and other senior officers also attended the briefing. The prime minister was informed that around 22,000 Hajj pilgrims were provided the Road-to-Makkah facility this year and they had to face no immigration-related hassle after landing in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has appreciated the support being extended by Asian Development Bank (ADB) to Pakistan for institutional and governance reforms. The Prime Minister stated this while talking to Shixin Chen, Vice President of Asian Development Bank (ADB), Senior Advisor Ehsan Khan and ADB’s Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang during a meeting held here at PM Office on Thursday. The Prime Minister said that his government’s main focus is to help the down-trodden alleviate from poverty and that this is his personal mission.

The Prime Minister said that expanding tax base, institutional reforms, and out-of-the-box solutions for service delivery are the priority areas of his government for achieving the goal of good governance.

He directed Economic Affairs Division to fast-track the processing and implementation of ADB’s projects so as to facilitate ADB’s support towards economic prosperity of Pakistan and its citizens.

Minister for Economic Affairs Muhammad Hamad Azhar, Advisor on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafiz Sheikh and senior officials were present during the meeting.

Vice President ADB Shixin Chen briefed the Prime Minister regarding short, medium and long term support to Pakistan in various sectors of the economy, particularly trade and competitiveness.

He stated that Pakistan, being a founding member, is an important partner of ADB. The Vice President ADB discussed various proposals for enhancing institutional capacity of the Government that would help Pakistan achieve its development and economic stability agenda.

Chen noted that Pakistan can play a very important role in promoting regional cooperation and integration in Central and West Asia region. He informed the Prime Minister that he had fruitful meetings with SAPM on Social Protection & Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar and ADB wants to support the Government’s flagship Ehsaas Program.