biometric verification slammed for Umrah

RAHIM YAR KHAN: Local travel agents on Tuesday staged a demonstration against the Saudi government’s new policy requiring biometric verification of those desiring to proceed for umrah.

Members of the Travel Agents Association (TAA), R Y Khan, gathered at the Bridge Chowk, holding banners against the new policy on the pilgrims.

Travel agents Muhammad Jamil, Azhar Soomro and Mahar Hameed told reporters that the Saudi government’s policy would not only affect their business but also create difficulties for the pilgrims.

They said under the new policy a company nominated by Saudi government “Aetmaad” would issue the biometric verification letter to those applying for umra pilgrimage and for completion of the biometric process they would have to travel to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

They argued that the requirement would also increase the Umrah expenses because the pilgrims would have to pay the fee and travel charges before submitting their passports to the travel agents.

They added that as all the passports were already being issued by the interior ministry after biometric verification, there was no justification for repeating the process, causing inconvenience to the pilgrims.

They demanded the Pakistan government should make the biometric process easy after discussing the issue with the Saudi authorities. Agencies