Hajj 2019: Saudi Arabia cancels licences of two Makatib over poor arrangements

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Saudi Arabia has cancelled the licenses of two Makatib that hosted Pakistani pilgrims where the accommodation arrangements were found to be highly unsatisfactory during the recent Hajj 2019 and it has assured Pakistan to cancel the licenses of four more Makatib who failed to provide adequate and satisfactory facilities to the pilgrims from Pakistan.

This was informed by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony during a briefing given to the committee members on Friday.

Some 173,000 Pakistanis performed Hajj this year including 117,000 pilgrims who availed government’s Hajj scheme and 56,000 pilgrims who took the services of private Hajj tour operators, the official data of the Religious Affairs Ministry said.

A few weeks ago, reports surfaced that during Hajj, Pakistani pilgrims faced immense problems during their stay in Mina due to unsatisfactory arrangements made at the Makatib (residential facilities comprising of groups of tents where pilgrims stay). Several footages have also appeared on social media highlighting the plight of Pakistani pilgrims in Mina. Fingers were pointed at Religious Affairs Ministry for its alleged failure to ensure adequate arrangements to facilitate Pakistani pilgrims during Hajj this year.

In the Friday meeting of the NA committee presided over by Asad Mahmood from Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan (MMAP), the officials of Religious Affairs Ministry, led by Religious Affairs Minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, said there were 47 Makatib in the Mina, which served the Pakistani pilgrims. The pilgrims made complaints against 19 Makatib. Moreover, there were very serious complaints against six Makatib. The Minister for Religious Affairs informed the committee that the ministry had taken up the matter with Saudi authorities who promised to take strict action, including cancellation of the licenses, against those six Makatib. Out of these six Makatib, he said, the Saudi authorities had suspended the licenses of two Makatib.

The committee recommended that the detailed report on arrangements of Hajj 2019 be submitted by the ministry before the committee by September 16.

Qadri said the facilities like e-visa had been provided to Pakistani pilgrims for the first time in the history of Pakistan.

On the request of Raja Riaz Ahmed from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the committee also held a discussion on the tense situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IHK) where the Indian forces have imposed round-the-clock curfew for more than a month. The committee condemned the Indian forces’ atrocities on the residents of IOK and expressed complete solidarity with Kashmiris and Kashmir cause.


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