On Friday, February 29, PIA, the national flag carrier of Pakistan, clarified that its flight operations to Saudi Arabia have not been suspended and that all the flights are continued as per schedule. It has been said by Pakistan International Airline that the flight operations to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would not stop until the return of all the Umrah Pilgrims to Pakistan.
The development came after the Saudi Authorities took preventive measures against the deadly coronavirus that has taken a heavy toll on several countries. As per the official directive, Saudi Arabia had imposed a temporary ban on the passengers from the countries affected by the lethal virus, including Pakistan.
The Intention Behind Saudi Arabia’s Move:
Since the deadly virus is highly contagious, the authorities of various countries are trying their level best to keep the people of the affected countries at bay. In the beginning, it was only China where the cases were being reported; but now, the virus has reached several other countries. Some countries, including Iran, have even reported the deaths of their citizens owning to their inability to counter the virus.
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So, keeping the safety of their citizens in view, the Saudi officials declared that the Mecca and Medina would not receive pilgrims. Their decision reflects how serious the Saudi Authorities are regarding the coronavirus that has already taken over 2,800 lives in China.
Concerns Regarding The Temporary Ban:
Several Muslim countries have expressed disapproval regarding the temporary ban on their citizens to Mecca and Medina. Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, has urged Saudi Arabia to allow its citizens to continue their Umrah Pilgrimage. Each year, over 1 million pilgrimages visit the kingdom to perform Hajj and Umrah. The state officials are saying that at the time of the announcement, there were thousands of citizens staying in Mecca and Medina. The immediacy of the decision will undoubtedly impact the citizens of all the countries whose pilgrims are in the kingdom.
Statement Of PIA Spokesperson:
The spokesperson of PIA said that due to the instructions of Saudi Authorities, the tourist visa holders and the Umrah pilgrims would not be able to travel to the holy lands temporarily. He further stated that full money would be returned to the pilgrims.
He further clarified that the people who hold permanent resident cards and the work permits are allowed to fly to the holy cities. Furthermore, the passengers are also being informed through the phone calls regarding the decision of Saudi government.