Over 20,000 Pakistani pilgrims return home from Hajj

“[The returnees include] 9,000 from the government quota and 5,000 who were using services offered by private tour and Hajj operators,” Imran Siddiqui, MRA spokesman said in a statement. (Ministry of Religious Affairs/Twitter)
Updated 22 August 2019

Over 20,000 Pakistani pilgrims return home from Hajj

  • 110,000 others are still in Makkah
  • Specially designated flights to bring the Hajjis home will continue until September 15

ISLAMABAD: More than 20,000 pilgrims returned to Pakistan from Saudi Arabia since August 17, 2019 after completing the Hajj pilgrimage, the Ministry of Religious Affairs said in a statement released on Wednesday.
“[The returnees include] 14,000 from the government quota and 6,000 who were using services offered by private tour and Hajj operators,” Imran Siddiqui, MRA spokesman said in a statement, adding that 100,000 others are still in Makkah.
He added that special flights – which began on August 17 to bring the 200,000 pilgrims back – will continue until September 15.
“Elaborate arrangements have been made on Pakistan’s 10 airports to welcome the pilgrims on their return,” Siddiqui said, adding that this year, major airports in the country had also stocked up on Zamzam water – as part of an initiative by the Kingdom – to distribute among pilgrims upon their arrival home.
Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Noor-ul-Haq Qadri lauded the Kingdom’s arrangements and hospitality extended to pilgrims during Hajj this year.
“We are thankful to King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi ministries of Interior, Hajj and also the governor of Makkah for the best arrangements for Hajj this year,” Qadri said in a statement on August 15.
For the first time this year, a pre-immigration pilot program was launched at the Islamabad International Airport as part of Saudi’s Road to Makkah project which Pakistan had been included in on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s request.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had made the announcement during his historic visit to Islamabad in February this year.
The initiative was aimed at facilitating Hajj pilgrims by way of a faster immigration process which helped them save up to 10 hours of waiting time on their arrival in Saudi Arabia.

Karachi braces for weekend rains as billions lost to drenches this week

Updated 26 August 2020

Karachi braces for weekend rains as billions lost to drenches this week

  • Losses from Tuesday's flooding estimated at Rs5 billion ($30 million), Karachi traders say
  • Met agency says floodwater in Karachi must be drained immediately to prevent further flooding on Saturday

KARACHI: Another spell of heavy rain is expected to lash the port city of Karachi on Saturday, Pakistan's meteorological department warned, as it called on the city's authorities to drain water from flooded neighborhoods to avoid further damage and casualties.

Rain-related incidents in the past few days killed dozens of people in the coastal metropolis of Sindh province, while streets, homes and factories were flooded with sewage water, causing losses of billions of rupees in the city where the drainage and sewage systems are outdated.

"There will be a gap of two days (in rains). If it is not utilized to drain out the water from the affected areas, a light to moderate spell on Saturday will drown them again," Sardar Sarfraz, chief metrological officer of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, told Arab News.

On Tuesday, he said, a record 345 millimeters of rainfall flooded most of the city.

As flooding brought operations at the city's industrial zones to a standstill, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) president Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan said the government should declare the rains a national disaster to allow people to be compensated.

Shaikh Umar Rehan, president of the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) told Arab News that work has been heavily disrupted at the city's factories which normally operate non-stop.

“The factories work round the clock, but on Tuesday, even one shift couldn’t be completed,” he said.



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According to Atiq Mir, president of the Karachi Traders Association, losses from damages to the markets in the old city area alone are estimated to be Rs1 billion.

"As trade volume is Rs4 billion per day, both direct and indirect losses make it Rs5 billion ($30 million). On Wednesday, as the markets could not open completely, the (trade) community will have to bear another Rs2.5 billion losses."

The Sindh government and the military say teams are on the ground to drain the water and rescue the affected.

“It has broken an 89-year record and it was continuously raining for eight hours but as soon as the rain stopped teams were on ground to clear the areas. Most of the city’s thoroughfares were cleared by the Tuesday evening. The entire Sindh government was in the field to supervise the relief work,” Sindh Labor Minister Saeed Ghani told Arab News.

He added that the problem will not be resolved within days.

The military's media wing said in a statement that relief and rescue efforts were underway in the heavily flooded Malir Nadi, Kohi Goth and Dur Muhammad Goth areas of the city.