ISLAMABAD: The government is preparing to bring back the bodies of Pakistani pilgrims who lost their lives in the Mina stampede, and will bear the costs during the process, said Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Muhammad Yousaf.
Addressing a press conference after returning from Saudi Arabia on Thursday, the minister, flanked by Prime Minister’s focal person on Mina incident Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary, said the government had so far received three requests from the families of the pilgrims in this regard.
“Majority of the families have agreed upon burying the bodies of their dear ones in Saudi Arabia,” Yousaf said.
Regarding the death toll, the minister said so far deaths of 89 Pakistani pilgrims were confirmed, out of which 48 were verified by the Saudi government and 41 by their relatives.
As many as 43 pilgrims are also missing of whom five went for Hajj on government’s quota, 12 through private tour operators, 10 as Iqama (identification card) holders, whereas the rest were reported by their relatives, he added.
“We are in close coordination with the Saudi authorities,” said Yousaf, adding that “identification of the bodies is one of the biggest challenges they are still facing.”
The minister added that Pakistan was not the only country struggling to find the whereabouts of its citizens; Egypt and Bangladesh, among others were also making efforts towards this end.