Umrah pilgrimage from Saudi Arabia arrives in Islamabad – Clear in Corona virus test

 
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Islamabad: March 16, 2020 (TNS): A group of 50 Umrah pilgrimages headed by religious scholar Haji Zawar Dr Azhar Ali Mubarak from Saudi Arabia arrives in Islamabad – Clear in Corona virus test at Islamabad international airport.All 50 Umrah pilgrimages headed by religious scholar Haji Zawar Dr Azhar Ali Mubarak arriving from Saudi Arabia’s city of Jeddah at Islamabad international airport have been declared clear during the medical test of the corona- virus.

The Visitors of the 50-member contingent, accompanied by renowned social worker and spiritual personality Haji Zawar Doctor Azhar Ali Mubarak, visited the holy cities Makka and Madina for Umrah Ziarrat in for 21st Day of Rajab-1441 Hijri calendar to celebrate the Birth day celebration of Hazrat Ali (A.S.). During the 23-day visit, the pilgrims also attended the ‘Umrah in Makkah, and visited the holy city of Madina, and offered special prayers for the prosperity of entire Pakistani nation .At arrival of airport there were a large number of friends and family members who welcomed Dr. Azhar Ali and others at the Islamabad Airport, who received him warmly presented flower bucket. The pilgrimages were allowed going home after being cleared of special medical tests for coronavirus (COVID-19, Dr Azhar Ali said. For this purpose, the Embassy of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia provided all possible facilities for the Pakistani pilgrimages. The staff at the Islamabad Airport also provided facilities to the pilgrimages’ in good manners.

The special counters have also been set up at the airport for pilgrimages’ for this purpose. The pilgrimages thanked the Prime Minister Imran Khan for wonderful arrangements by the federal government for Pakistani pilgrimages.Earlier the Saudi governments gave 72-hour deadline to leave Saudi Arabia Pakistani pilgrimages. Amid the global rise in the coronavirus epidemic, some 142 flights were operated between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the last 72 hours; the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) informed on other day.The CAA informed that 18,843 passengers were sent from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia. Whereas 21,180 passengers were brought from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, CAA said Pakistan Civil Aviation has requested Saudi Aviation to increase the ultimatum by 72 hours.

Airlines from both countries have requested further delay until March 18, CAA said. Earlier, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that additional six to seven flights would be operated between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to bring Pakistani Umra pilgrims back home and take Pakistani workers to the Kingdom before the Saudi deadline of suspending flight operations ends on other day. The Minister for Aviation, in a video message, said that besides the national flag carrier PIA, the services of the country’s private airlines including Air Blue and Serene Air were being hired to meet the deadline of 72 hours given by Saudi Arabia.About the situation in the wake of coronavirus (COVID-19), Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that the National Security Committee (NSC) in its meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to suspend the operation of international flights at five airports of the country and restricted it to the airports of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi alone.
The Saudi Arabia’s government has already suspended the year-round umrah pilgrimage over fears that corona virus could spread to Islam’s holiest cities. The umrah – which, unlike the hajj, can be undertaken at any time of year – draws millions of Muslim pilgrims to Saudi Arabia every year. The umrah draws more than 18.3million Muslim pilgrims to Saudi Arabia per year. Many people choose to undertake it during Ramadan, which starts in April. But it has now been suspended as Saudi Arabia tries to keep out corona virus .But the Gulf state has today decided to ‘suspend umrah temporarily for citizens and residents in the kingdom’, official media said. The Visitors are also barred from ‘visits to the Prophet’s mosque in Medina’, the foreign ministry said. The Saudi Arabia on Monday confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus after one its citizens who had returned from virus hotspot Iran tested positive. Iran has refused to shut down the holy city of Qom at the centre of the outbreak – whereas Saudi authorities have now taken firmer action. The Visas for the umrah had already been suspended last week amid growing fears over the spread of the virus in the Middle East. The ban’s effect will be especially large at this time of year, because Ramadan starts in April and the holy month is considered a favourable period for the umrah. The Citizens from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council have also been banned from entering Mecca and Medina. The holy sites, which draw millions of pilgrims every year, are a key revenue earner for Saudi Arabia. Around a third of the 18.3million umrah participants in 2018 were visitors from abroad, according to government statistics. It is unclear how the coronavirus will affect the hajj, due to start in late July.Some 2.5million faithful travelled to Saudi Arabia from across the world in 2019 to take part in hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam.The event is a massive logistical challenge for Saudi authorities, with colossal crowds cramming into relatively small holy sites, making it vulnerable to contagion.The Saudi Arabia’s custodianship of Mecca and Medina – Islam’s two holiest sites – is seen as the kingdom’s most powerful source of political legitimacy.But a series of deadly disasters over the years has prompted criticism of the Sunni kingdom’s management of the hajj.In September 2015, a stampede killed up to 2,300 worshippers in the worst disaster ever to strike the pilgrimage.The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform plan seeks to decouple the kingdom’s economy – the world’s top crude exporter – from oil dependency towards other sources of revenue, including religious tourism.The government had hoped to welcome 30million pilgrims to the kingdom annually by 2030.