Saudia Arabia cuts visa fee for Pakistanis

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Saudi Arabian embassy in islamabad has announced to cut visa fee for Pakistani nationals hours ahead of Crown Prince Mohammad in Salman’s arrival in Islamabad.

The visit visa fee for Pakistani has been reduced to 338 riyals from 2000 riyals. Single entry visa fee has been reduced to 338 riyals and multiple visa fee to 675 riyals. The Saudia Arabia embassy statement said the new fee be effective from February 15. Pakistan had already cut visa fees for Saudi nationals, which took effect from December 12, 2018.

Islamabad had lowered the fee for single entry visa fee for Saudi nationals to 270 riyals, whereas multiple visa fee was cut to 540 riyals. The business single entry visa fee for Saudi citizens was reduced to 405 riyals and multiple business visa fee to 810 riyals.

Pakistan is set to accord a historic welcome to Crown Prince as Prime Minister Imran Khan will receive him at the airport and host him at his official residence.

Meanwhile, major opposition parties with the support of MMA are set to strongly oppose the recent increase in Haj expenses in the country, as the matter would jointly be raised in the upcoming National Assembly session.

The main opposition parties with the support of religio-political group (Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal) will raise the matter by moving call-attention notice or adjournment motion in the national assembly secretariat, opposition parties members shared with The Nation.

The PTI’s government, in federal cabinet, had recently approved Haj policy 2019 under which the cost of performing the ritual under the government scheme has been fixed at Rs4,56,426 (with Qurbani) against last year’s enpenses. Under new scheme, the pilgrim from Pakistan has to pay additional Rs1,76,426.

The major opposition parties had strongly opposed the government’s new initiative and asked the government to take back its decision immediately.

The government has given the nation the most expensive package in history…it feels that the government has turned Haj into a source of its revenue,” opposition leader Shahbaz sharif commented immediately after the announcement by the government. Opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, opposition members said, will strongly raise the matter in the national assembly proceedings with other matters. He may demand from government to take back its decision immediately to facilitate the piligrims.

”The people claiming to turn Pakistan into a Medina-like state have made it difficult for people to fulfill the religious obligation of Haj ,” commented Shehbaz Sharif.

The religio-political parties (MMA) in the national assembly including Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) will strongly support the opposition parties’ point of view on this matter.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had also strongly opposed the decision taken by the government about increasing the Haj fare.READ MORE: Visit of Saudi Crown Prince to bolster bilateral ties with Pakistan: PM

The second largest opposition party (PPP-P) in the national assenbly will also join hands with the rest of opposition parties over its decision to oppose the increase in Haj enpenses. The opposition side, sources said, may stage token walkout with the demand from government to review its decision on this matter.

Likewise, the Upper house of the Parliament had recently moved a call-attention notice against the government’s move and expressed dis-appointment over the Haj policy.

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