Pakistan denies report of Saudi ban on pilgrims
Pakistan on Tuesday denied reports that the Saudi Kingdom had temporarily banned Muslims from Pakistan from performing the minor pilgrimage of Umrah to Mecca.
"As far as we know, there is no such restriction in place," foreign office spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan told reporters.
A report from Riyadh quoting Al-Watan newspaper Monday said Saudi Arabia had slapped a temporary ban on all Muslims from Pakistan and Syria from performing the minor pilgrimage because of visa irregularities, according to AFP.
The ministry of haj issued the ban because of widespread "trading in Umrah visas" last year that left an estimated 10,000 pilgrims from the two countries stranded in Saudi Arabia, it said.
According to the ministry, the pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia on false visas and were unable to leave the kingdom because of financial difficulties, the paper said.
The foreign office spokesman at a briefing in Islamabad said he had checked with the Saudi embassy in Pakistan and it was not aware of such restrictions. (Albawaba.com)