200 family members of Christchurch attack victims begin arriving for Hajj

First patch of families of victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand have arrived on 02 August 2019 at King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. ( Courtesy: Social Media )
Updated 04 August 2019

200 family members of Christchurch attack victims begin arriving for Hajj

  • Naeem Rashid and his son were among nine Pakistanis shot dead in the New Zealand city of Christchurch in March
  • Family members of people killed in March 2019 mosque attacks in New Zealand are guests of King Salman

ISLAMABAD: On the directives of Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, 200 family members of victims of the March 2019 twin mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand started to arrive in Jeddah on Friday, before the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
The wife of a Pakistani man who died along with his son trying to confront a suspected white supremacist during the attacks in said she was “overwhelmed” by Saudi Arabia’s offer to bereaved families to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage as guests of King Salman.
Mian Naeem Rashid, 50, and his son Talha were among nine Pakistanis killed when a gunman attacked two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch in March, killing 50 people from countries including Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt and Jordan. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with the murders and will go on trial next year.
Rashid from Abbottabad, Pakistan, and a New Zealand resident for nine years, was at the Al Noor mosque with his 21-year-old son. He was seen lunging at the gunman in the livestream video the killer posted online.
Rashid’s wife said she was “overwhelmed by this gesture of Saudi Arabia” to send the bereaved families of the Christchurch attack on Hajj.
Last month, speaking to Arab News via phone from her home in New Zealand, Ambreen Rashid said: “I am thankful to King Salman and the Crown Prince for keeping us in their thoughts and providing us the opportunity to visit our most holy and spiritual place.”
Rashid said she along with other families of the victims were approached by Saudi diplomats shortly after the March attacks with the offer to go on the Hajj pilgrimage as guests of the government.
Hosting the families during Hajj season is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to “confront and defeat terrorism” in all forms, Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh, the Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs said. His ministry has been working with the Saudi embassy in New Zealand to make all arrangements for the families’ pilgrimage.

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

Updated 12 January 2020

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

  • Work on foreign minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States being done
  • Pakistan’s strong relations with regional countries has made it an important player

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated on Thursday that the country was going to play its role in restoring peace in the Middle East by working with other international stakeholders in the region.

“Pakistan welcomes de-escalation and wants to play its role in ensuring peace and stability in the region. We have seen that indication in United States President [Donald] Trump’s speech and are evaluating its contours,” the country’s foreign office spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, said in her weekly media briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.

She said that Pakistan’s geographical position, along with its strong relations with regional countries and the United States, had made it a significant player in the Middle East.

“Pakistan has maintained that war is not the solution to any issue and made it clear that it will not become part of any regional conflict,” she said.

The spokesperson noted that Islamabad had enhanced its efforts to defuse tensions in the region and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had contacted his counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and many other important states in this connection.

“All the international players, including Saudi Arabia, have said that the region cannot afford another war and asked for restraint from both parties [the US and Iran]. It’s a collective objective of all countries to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East,” she said.

Commenting on the foreign minister’s upcoming visit to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the US, she said that “work on these tours has already started and they will take place as soon as dates are finalized with the respective countries.”

“We are very mindful for our brotherly and friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other regional countries. Pakistan and the US also enjoy longstanding relations and have contacts with each other through multiple forums including political and military leadership,” Farooqui said, adding that the foreign office had established a task force to continuously monitor the situation in the Middle East and inform the government about it along with its suggestions on a daily basis.

The spokesperson expressed hope that recent developments in the Middle East would not affect the ongoing Afghan peace process.

“Pakistan hopes that progress made on Afghan peace process will not come to a halt and the world community will not lose its focus as a result of the ongoing tensions in the Middle East,” she said.

Asked about the safety of Pakistani nationals in Iraq, she said the country’s embassy in Baghdad was on the alert to deal with any emergency situation.

“We are concerned about the safety of Pakistani citizens in Iraq and have issued an advisory in this regard. We have also instructed our mission in Baghdad to remain vigilant to deal with any emergency,” Farooqui said.