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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sahibzada Noor-ul-Haq Qadri Sunday said the Saudi government has allowed only 60,000 faithful to perform sacred religious ceremony of Hajj this year under strict health and precautionary measures.

In a statement, he said some 15,000 local and 45,000 from other countries would be allowed to perform the sacred religious ceremony this year. The pilgrims must have to follow the corona virus related Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Qadri hoped that the Saudi government would later inform Pakistan authorities about the number of Pakistani pilgrims that will be allowed to perform Hajj this year.

The Saudi government had issued nine page special instructions and conditions. The hajj 2021 would take place under special circumstances with special norms, rules and regulations, eligibility, criteria and age restrictions.

He said people below the age of 18 and over 60 years will not be allowed to go for Hajj, while health certificate would have to be deposited.

Qadri asked the Pakistani intending pilgrims to continue their Hajj preparations.

Authentic corona vaccine certificate and PCR negative test has been made mandatory. The Pakistan government has requested Saudi authorities to register the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine for pilgrims.

This year's Hajj is expected to begin on July 17. Usually, an estimated two million people visit Makkah and Madinah for the annual gathering of Hajj. However, amid corona virus outbreak only a limited number were allowed to perform Hajj.

Last year, only 10,000 people living in Saudi Arabia were allowed to perform Hajj due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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