The Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Sahibzada Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, has said that the official decision for proceeding with the Hajj pilgrimages this year is yet to be taken.
While addressing the media in Islamabad on Wednesday, the minister said that the government is yet to sign a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the matter. A formal MoU is signed with the government of Saudi Arabia in November every year, but the latest one has not been signed until now.
When asked about when the government is going to start accepting the Hajj applications, Qadri said that nothing could be said with certainty in this regard due to the prolonged COVID-19 situation. He added,
Saudi Arabia has only told us not to finalize any hajj-related agreement for time being.
Qadri stated that the ministry is in touch with the concerned Saudi Arabian authorities and that any development on this front will be promptly shared with the media.
He also said that the number of pilgrims this year may be higher as compared to 2020 when only a limited number of devotees were allowed to perform Hajj.
Reflecting on the political situation of the country, Qadri said that the so-called Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is over and the political temperature is likely to recede.
Taking a jibe at the PDM chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, the minister said the Maulana is a politician and tries to play politics with every issue. He declared that he has more regard for the prayer leaders serving in the far-flung areas than for Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman.