Registration of pilgrims under private Haj scheme in progress, says Ashrafi

LAHORE  -  Chairman Pakistan Ulema Coun­cil, Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mah­mood Ashrafi announced that the registration of pilgrims under the private Hajj scheme was in progress, with 24,000 pilgrims slated to participate in the Road to Makkah project this year. He made these remarks during a press con­ference held at the Lahore Press Club, where he was joined by rep­resentatives from Hajj Organisers Association of Pakistan (HOAP), including Saeed Ahmed Malik, Chaudhry Ehsanullah, Malik Ab­dul Khaliq, Chaudhry Muhammad Adil, Khalid Mahmood Bhatti, Pir Shafaat Ahmed Boudla, and Zeeshan Qamar. Ashrafi, who is also the patron-in-chief of HOAP, noted that this year, certain pri­vate tour operators were offering Hajj packages at a more affordable rate compared to pilgrims par­ticipating in the government Hajj scheme. He emphasised that due to enhanced self-accountability measures, private pilgrims would not encounter issues as they have in the past. “It is imperative to provide written documentation to pilgrims detailing all the facilities to be provided during the sacred journey,” he added. Furthermore, Ashrafi mentioned that the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah was dispatching high-level officials to train Pakistani pilgrims. With the concerted efforts of Prime Min­ister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir, he said high-level Saudi delegations had vis­ited Pakistan. He remarked that Pakistan’s shift towards trade rather than aid was a significant development, with Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations poised to play pivotal roles in Pakistan’s future economic and financial ad­vancement. He commended the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony for imple­menting corruption-free mea­sures, expressing praise for the current government and the min­ister for their efforts. In response to a question, Ashrafi affirmed that the Saudi government al­ways refrained from interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs. During challenging periods, he said the Saudi government had extended assistance to Pakistan. Ashrafi further mentioned that following the visits of the army chief and the prime minister, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had dispatched high-level Saudi delegations to Pakistan. He un­derscored the commitment of the Saudi government to invest in Pakistan, enhancing its eco­nomic and financial stability. In a gesture of deep appreciation, he extended his heartfelt thanks to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Ab­dulaziz, Crown Prince Muham­mad bin Salman, Saudi Arabian Minister of Haj and Umrah Dr Tawfiq Fawzan Al-Rabiah, and Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki for their unwavering support in providing facilities to pilgrims and other tourists. Responding to another query, he emphasized that Paki­stan and Saudi Arabia shared identical stances regarding Isra­el. “Both countries firmly assert that Israel’s occupation of Pales­tine is unjust”, he maintained.

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