ISLAMABAD (Agencies): Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday signed an agreement for the execution of “Road to Makkah” project aimed at simplifying the immigration process for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.

The agreement was signed at the Prime Minister House during the visit of Deputy Interior Minister of Saudi Arabia Dr Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Dawood.

Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah and the Saudi deputy interior minister signed the document while Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Saudi Ambassador in Islamabad Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki witnessed the ceremony.

Minister for Religious Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Senator Talha Mahmood, Federal Minister for Narcotics Control Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti and Special Assistant to the PM Tariq Fatemi were also present.

Under the agreement, the Pakistani Hajj and Umrah pilgrims would be provided immigration facilities in Pakistan who would be exempted from the process at Saudi airports.

In the first phase, the service would be available at the Islamabad International Airport where around 26,000 pilgrims would benefit from the facility.

The Saudi authorities assured that the facility would later be extended to Karachi and Lahore airports as well.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia also signed the joint minutes of the meeting in which they discussed the issuance of Pakistani passports to the Burmese Muslims residing in Saudi Arabia on Pakistani passports.

According to the details, the passports of the Burmese Muslims were not renewed after 2012 which created some difficulties for them in the Kingdom.

Under the arrangement, the Burmese Muslims and their children would be issued passports to improve their legal status in Saudi Arabia.

As per the discussion, a bilateral committee would be formed comprising the representatives of Saudi Arabia and the interior ministry to work out early issuance of the documents to the Burmese Muslims.

Following the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Shehbaz presented a souvenir to the Saudi dignitary who also reciprocated the gesture by presenting a memento the prime minister.

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