ISLAMABAD: Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah held a meeting with Saudi Arabian Minister for Hajj Dr. Bandar bin Mohammad al-Hajjar at Ministry of Hajj in Jeddah on Saturday and discussed matters relating to Hajj.
The Saudi Arabian Minister for Hajj welcomed his Pakistani counterpart to the annual bilateral ministerial meeting held for the purpose of agreeing on various issues relating to the performance of Hajj 1433/ 2012 by Pakistani hujjaj.
For his part, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, praised the immense services of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz and the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the numerous steps being taken for the constant improvements taking place for upgrading the Umra and Hajj experiences of pilgrims from all over the world.
He especially referred to the expansion project of the Masjid al-Haram, the Masha'ir and the proposed Hejaz train as well as the new Jeddah terminal.
The two Ministers and their teams discussed many issues which included the Pakistani request for an additional ex-gratia quota for additional 10,000 hujjaj; this was positively received and the Saudi side promised to give it due consideration as the matter required the consent of the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques.
The Pakistani desire for use of Masha'ir train facility by all Pakistani hujjaj (government and private hajj schemes) was approved.
It is believed that as a consequence of obtaining the train facility accommodation for GoP and HGO sponsored hujjaj in Mina will be nearer to the train stations than last year.
This year Pakistani hujjaj would also be allowed to take guided tours of Jeddah during their stay in Makkah.
Numerous issues relating to better services for Hujjaj were discussed.
The Saudi side stressed upon a continuous improvement of the pre-arrival training of Pakistani hujjaj and also improved operational mechanism which further limited any discomfort to hujjaj like delays of buses between Jeddah airport and Makkah.
The Saudi side desired that in order to ensure quality food to the Hujjaj the local KSA authorities should supervise the catering services supplying any food items.
In the end Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah invited Bandar bin Muhammad Hajjar to visit Pakistan along with his team; this invitation was gladly accepted.
The meeting ended with an exchange of gifts and mementoes and a profuse vote of thanks.
The Minister was accompanied by a team comprising senior Pakistani functionaries including Shaukat Hayat Durrani, Secretary Ministry of Religious Affairs, Muhammad Naeem Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, Director General Hajj, Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Salik Khan, Consul General of Pakistan at Jeddah, Syed Rafeo Bashir Shah, Director Pakisan Hajj Mission and Bahrullah Hazarvi, Director in the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
The Saudi Arabian Minister for Hajj was accompanied by a team comprising Hatim Qazi and Sahal Sabban, as well as Mr. Farooq Abu Zaid, Chairman, Maktabul Vokala al-Mawhid, Dr. Rashad bin Muhammad Hussain, Deputy Chairman, Moassasah Mutiwwify Hujjaj South Asia, and Maj Gen. Zakaria Joharjee, Chairman Naqabatus Sayyarat.
Also present were three Directors General of the Ministry of Hajj and representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, KSA. (APP)