Pakistani Ambassador Muhammad Naeem Khan will welcome the first group of Pakistani Haj pilgrims at Jeddah airport on Monday.
Officials at the Pakistan Embassy told Arab News that 229,000 Pakistanis would perform Haj this year. “The first flight of Haj pilgrims from Lahore arrives on Sept. 9 in Jeddah. In all, 143,000 Pakistanis would perform Haj under the government quota, while over 86,000 pilgrims will be visiting under the private tour operators’ quota,” the officials said.
They said that the PIA will operate a total of 214 Haj flights to Jeddah and Makkah, while Shaheen Air and Saudi Arabian Airlines would operate Haj flights from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan and Sialkot.
“The government of Pakistan, the embassy in Riyadh and the consulate general in Jeddah will provide facilities for Haj pilgrims. Efforts have been made to make the 2013 Haj an exemplary event,” the officials said.
Around 1,000 scouts from Pakistan and 900 from Saudi Arabia have been selected to extend assistance to the pilgrims, while 432 medical missions have been set up in the Kingdom for the benefit of the guests of God.
The Pakistan Ministry of Religion has issued a statement informing Haj pilgrims that the ministry has introduced the Electronic Haj Monitoring System (EHMS) to assist them.
“The system would help Haj pilgrims to register their complaints online regarding any difficulties, and the staff deputed in Pakistan will also try to address their grievances,” the statement said.
“Pilgrims can make free calls around the clock on 08007700 in Pakistan and on 088116622 while in Saudi Arabia to register their complaints.”
The Saudi Arabia has reduced the number of pilgrims by about 20 percent this year due to the deadly coronavirus disease and expansion works at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.While we worry about visitors contracting MERS, we should remember that disease can be imported as well as exported. It would not be surprising, after the Haj, to discover poliovirus in Mecca's sewage.