National Assembly to take up Saudi demand for biometric verification



The National Assembly will take up today several important legislative items including the slapping of a condition by the Saudi government for biometric verification of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and the fiscal and debt policy statement for the year 2017-18.


A calling-attention notice regarding the imposition of digital identification for Pakistanis wishing to go Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah and the steps taken by the Pakistani government to address the problems facing the pilgrims will be taken up by the House on Monday.

The Saudi government last year announced that the bio-metric verification — finger and face print recognition — will be a basic requirement for all Pakistani Umrah and Hajj visa applicants. According to travel agents, the decision would put an additional burden of Rs1,040 million each year on the Pakistanis traveling to the holy land.


The new condition has caused severe problems for the pilgrims as biometric verification service centres were only located in federal and provincial capitals.


A company tasked by the Saudi embassy in Islamabad for the bio-metric verification failed to handle the large influx of pilgrims despite charging Rs600 extra form each person.

On strong public reaction, the Saudi embassy suspended the biometric system for the time being. The Saudi embassy, recently issued a communiqué again, making the facial and fingerprint verification mandatory for all Pakistanis aspiring to visit Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah.


The other items on the agenda include the fiscal and debt policy statement for the year 2017-18.

Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division Tariq Fazal Chaudhry will lay the Capital Development Authority Ordinance, 2018 before the House.

Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs will introduce a bill further to amend the Banks (Nationalization) Act, 1974. The Chairman Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training will present a report of the standing committee on a bill “The Institute for Art and Culture Bill, 2018”. The annual progress report of the Benazir Income Support Programme 2016-17 will also be laid before the House during the Monday session.