No confirmation of this year’s Hajj yet: Pakistan minister
The Saudi government has not yet confirmed that this year's Hajj will be held according to normal routine or the coronavirus SOPs, Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri said Sunday.
Pakistani authorities are in touch with Saudi officials on the matter, Qadri told reporters in Lahore. They have asked to wait for the final decision, he said.
Under normal circumstances, a memorandum of understanding regarding Hajj is signed with the Saudi government in November, the minister said. But the Saudi government has not signed any MoU with any country so far, he added.
Qadri said if the pilgrimage would be linked to coronavirus vaccination, Pakistan is ready for it.
In 2020, Saudi Arabia scaled back the annual Hajj pilgrimage over fears the coronavirus could spread to Islam’s holiest cities and back to pilgrims’ home countries.
The pilgrimage went ahead in late July, on the smallest scale in modern history. Only up to 10,000 Muslim residents of the country were allowed to take part — a far cry from the 2.5 million who participated the previous year.
Saudi health authorities said no coronavirus cases were reported at the holy sites during Hajj.