Saturday Jun 12, 2021
Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday conveyed to Saudi Arabia Pakistan's understanding of the kingdom limiting Hajj to its own citizens this year.
Qureshi expressed the sentiments during a phone call from Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Foreign Office said in a statement.
The Saudi foreign minister apprised Foreign Minister Qureshi about the "challenges of organising Hajj in 2021 and the policy measures taken by the Kingdom in the larger interest of public health", said the statement.
Qureshi, in response, "conveyed his understanding of the situation and expressed confidence in the decisions taken in public interest" by the kingdom.
During the call, both sides reaffirmed the long-standing, fraternal ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Qureshi conveyed best wishes to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
In view of Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent visit to Saudi Arabia, the two foreign ministers "reviewed the outcomes of the successful visit and agreed to work together towards early and effective implementation of decisions taken by the leadership of the two countries".
Qureshi also reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the kingdom.
Bilateral cooperation in various fields was discussed, as well as the two countries’ cooperation in multilateral organisations.
Both sides also exchanged views on global and regional issues of mutual interest.
The two foreign ministers met twice in May 2021; first, during the visit of the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia, and then on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting on Palestine in New York.
Saudi Arabia has limited the number of pilgrims for Hajj this year and barred foreign travellers from coming to the country for the pilgrimage over COVID-19 fears.
Only 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the annual pilgrimage this year from citizens and residents, the Saudi Press Agency reported Saturday.
“In light of what the whole world is witnessing from the continuing developments of the coronavirus pandemic and the emergence of new mutations, Hajj registration will be limited to residents and citizens from inside the Kingdom only,” the Saudi Hajj ministry announced on Twitter.
Last year, only 1,000 people residing in the kingdom were selected to perform the pilgrimage.