Pashto, Punjabi added to list of languages at holy mosques in Saudi Arabia

In this file photo, Muslim pilgrims speak to an Urdu translator in Makkah during Hajj on Aug. 17, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2019

Pashto, Punjabi added to list of languages at holy mosques in Saudi Arabia

  • Move to facilitate translation of speeches and lectures for pilgrims in their local dialect
  • Pakistani nationals one of the largest groups to perform Hajj and Umrah every year

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to facilitate pilgrims from Pakistan, authorities at the two holy mosques in Saudi Arabia have added six new regional languages to a list for those performing Hajj and Umrah through the year, officials said on Monday.
In addition to Urdu, all lectures, speeches, and instructions will now be available in Pashto, Punjabi and Balochi as well.
The initiative, undertaken by the General Directorate of Languages and Translation at the General Presidency – which looks after the affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque – will have translators adept at the three new languages.
According to the Director General of Languages and Translation, Emad Baaqeel, the General Presidency also has sign language facilities for those with speech and hearing imparities.
“Translation of speeches and lessons are available through FM frequencies, on the website of the General Presidency, on special translations devices available within the Two Holy Mosques and at Arafa in Hajj, and applications on mobile devices,” Baqeel added.
During Hajj this year, the Kingdom had deployed hundreds of volunteers to assist non-Arab pilgrims from across the world at airports in Makkah and Madinah.
Pakistani nationals usually constitute the third largest group – after Saudis and Indonesians – to perform Hajj every year.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s Hajj and Umrah Ministry had launched a Twitter service to address pilgrims’ basic questions in Urdu and 12 other languages.


Gunmen kill journalist in northwestern Pakistan

Updated 5 min 50 sec ago

Gunmen kill journalist in northwestern Pakistan

  • Javedullah Khan was traveling with a police guard when two gunmen opened fire on his vehicle
  • Police says it was a targeted attack

PESHAWAR: A Pakistan journalist whose relatives were members of an anti-Taliban group has been gunned down, police confirmed Wednesday, the latest attack targeting media in the restive northwest of the country.
Javedullah Khan, 36, was shot dead late Tuesday in Matta, a former militant stronghold some 40-kilometers (24 miles) northwest of Pakistan’s picturesque Swat valley.
He worked as a bureau chief for the Urdu language newspaper Ausaf.
“Javed was traveling with a police guard when two gunmen opened fire on his vehicle. He died on the spot,” senior police official Muhammad Ijaz Khan told AFP.
Ali Muhammad a local police official, also confirmed the incident.
“It was a targeted attack,” Muhammad added.
“Many of his relatives, including a brother, uncles, and cousins were killed due to their involvement in anti-Taliban peace committees.”
For years, Pakistan has encouraged tribal vigilante forces, known locally as peace committees, to defend their villages against militants.
Most have been disbanded following a dramatic improvement in security across the country.
While militant networks have been severely disrupted in recent years, insurgents still retain the ability to launch attacks.
Amnesty International said Khan was an “exceptionally brave journalist” and called for an independent investigation into his killing.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but militants have long targeted pro-government tribal elders in the past.
Pakistan routinely ranks among the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers, and reporters have frequently been detained, beaten and even killed for being critical of the powerful military or Islamist militants.