PESHAWAR, 4 November: The Saudi government has delayed the implementation of condition of biometric verification for intending Umrah pilgrims from Pakistan till December.

According to a statement issued by the Saudi Embassy, Pakistan and its citizens have special importance for Saudi Arabia and interest of the Pakistani citizens will be given precedence in all matters. The statement said the biometric system was introduced to facilitate the Pakistani citizens and enable them to come out of Jeddah Airport without waiting for verification process. It said the system is already in place in different countries of the world. However, it said, Itemad company, which was given the task in Pakistan, started taking fingerprints of intending Umrah pilgrims without any preparation and necessary steps due to which the Pakistani citizens faced difficulties. The statement said the condition of biometric verification has been delayed till December keeping in view the difficulties of people.

The statement said the Pakistani citizens aspiring to come to Saudi Arabia for Umrah can now obtain visa under this system till December. Saudi Arabia had declared biometric verification for Pakistan and many other countries mandatory from 31 October. Many people in Pakistan staged protests over this step of the Saudi government and demanded reversal of the condition.