RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced on Monday that it will hold this year a "incredibly limited" Haj because of the coronavirus pandemic, with pilgrims also now allowed to take part in the kingdom.
The statement comes as Saudi Arabia struggles to contain the virus in a new increase in daily cases and deaths, charged with political and economic risk.
"This year it was planned with very limited numbers to hold the pilgrims ... In the Kingdom, with different nationalities, "the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing the Haj ministry.
Haj, a first for ambitious Muslims at least once in their lives, is a big significant source of pandemic because it brings millions of pilgrims into crowded religious sites. Any decision to restrict the event runs the risk of upsetting Muslim nationalists whose safety issues are trumped by religion.
A washed-down Haj will constitute a big drop in revenue for the kingdom, that is already suffering from the virus-induced twin crises and a drop in oil prices. It could also trigger renewed scrutiny of Saudi custody of the holiest sites of Islam — the most powerful source of democratic power for the kingdom.
NEW DELHI: Indian-Pakistani tensions continue to brew after reports of Pakistani diplomats being harassed in New Delhi emerged, Geo News reported Tuesday.
In an apparent attempt to harass the Pakistani diplomats a heavy contingent of police officers surrounded the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi.
The development came in the wake of Islamabad Police arresting two Indian High Commission staff for trying to escape after running over a man and critically injuring him Monday.
Eyewitnesses had said that a BMW vehicle was hitting a pedestrian who was walking on Embassy Road and trying to flee.
The pedestrian was critically injured for treatment and moved to a hospital. A large crowd of people halted the car and handed the two men over to the Islamabad Police.