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KCCI chief asks Saudi authorities to withdraw new rules of Umrah, Hajj

KCCI chief asks Saudi authorities to withdraw new rules of Umrah, Hajj

KARACHI: President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra, has expressed deep concern over Saudi government’s decision to make recording of biometrics mandatory for identification of intending pilgrims from Pakistan and some other countries.

In a statement issued, President KCCI requested the Saudi authorities to withdraw this new rules as it would intensify the hardships for intending pilgrims, particularly those inhabiting in far-flung areas of Pakistan.

He said, “A number of individuals, KCCI members and tour operators have approached the Karachi Chamber for assistance and asked us to request the Saudi government to withdraw this unnecessary decision.” 

Iftikhar Vohra opined that although the new rule has been implemented to streamline the visa process and reduce waiting time at entry points, but it will delay issuance of visas and increase costs for applicants who live in remote areas since they would have to travel to larger cities before getting their permits.

He further mentioned that all intending pilgrims from Pakistan already possess valid Computerized National Identity Cards issued by National Database Registration Authority so re-verification of pilgrims through biometric system by a private organization was a futile exercise and it will add more burden on intending pilgrims, particularly the senior citizens and women.

President KCCI stated that keeping in view the large number of almost 700,000 pilgrims visiting the holy land every year from Pakistan, the Saudi government should reconsider this new rule and withdraw it to facilitate the pilgrims.

He further advised the government of Pakistan to prioritize this serious issues and utilize its diplomatic channels to convince the Saudi government to withdraw this decision with a view to save Pakistani pilgrims from facing extra trouble