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To Mecca, on foot. The Express Tribune


    Published October 09, 2022


    With advances in expertise, journey and lodging providers, happening pilgrimage is turning into extra handy and hassle-free. Nonetheless, some folks select to undergo hardships to display the power of their dedication to a sure perception or activity. Usman Arshad, 25, is a type of who’re set to set a brand new world report: He is on his method to Mecca to carry out Hajj in 2023.

    Arshad, a pupil of communication research, began his journey from Okara in Punjab on October 1, 2022, with plans to cowl a distance of about six thousand kilometres. In 2021, Arshad went on to go to the Khunjerab Pass for 34 days. Pakistan-China border. Then he determined to go on Hajj on foot. “When I came back from Khunjerab, I thought about it a lot, and decided to perform Hajj on foot till Mecca. I worked on the calculation of probabilities and started planning,” he says.

    Arshad plans to journey by way of Iran, Iraq and Kuwait. “I started my journey early so that I would have enough time to visit various holy places in Iran and Iraq on my way to Saudi Arabia.”

    Arshad is the fourth of six siblings and lives in Okara metropolis. He has accomplished six semesters of his diploma from Okara University. “I have frozen my last two semesters, and will continue my studies once I get back from Haj,” Arshad, the son of a retired Air Force officer, advised me.

    In the previous week, Arshad has traveled to Chichawatni, ranging from Okara, and through Sahiwal through Harappa. He plans to journey to Quetta through Khanewal, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan, and from Quetta he’ll enter Iran.

    Arshad had been engaged on his plan for a 12 months, making an allowance for varied prospects and finding out visa procedures, however not a lot occurred till August 2022 when he met Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. “I wrote to embassies, tweeted for help and even went to several offices, but no one helped me. Somehow, I managed to meet Bilawal Bhutto, who asked me how he could help me in the implementation of my plan,” he says. Arshad wants an official letter from Pakistan Foreign Office to go to varied nations in his itinerary. Now that the international ministry has written to Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, it’s anticipating to obtain his visa within the subsequent 45-50 days. To exit Pakistan through Balochistan, a sound visa for its first vacation spot is necessary.

    Arshad explains, “I hope I’ll get all my visas quickly because the letter for particular permission has already been despatched and the matter is underneath course of. I couldn’t anticipate my visa to reach, or I wasted time So I made a decision to begin my journey inside Pakistan earlier than getting my visa.

    Arshad, who is anticipated to enter Saudi Arabia in May, has not finalized his precise route and the cities from which he’ll journey. He is assured that he’ll proceed to stroll as the trail leads him. “I have mainly routed my travels, but outside Pakistan, I have not finalized the cities and route yet. I will go with the flow,” he says. He additionally plans to rely on the assistance and generosity of the folks when it comes to lodging, meals and different amenities. “The important thought is to remain in mosques at evening, and if that’s not allowed, a verify submit generally is a resting place. I’ll keep in motels as I see them on my method, I have never booked something upfront. ,

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    Interestingly, Arshad might not be following any map, and he would not have something particular. He plans to ask folks for instructions whereas touring, and with their assist and steerage, he’ll full his journey. He plans to enter Saudi Arabia by way of Nuwaisib Port, Kuwait’s borders with Saudi Arabia.

    Arshad, who travels by way of the identical path to Khunjerab Pass, has been of nice assist throughout his journey. He retains updating his location and lodging particulars on a journey group on Facebook; Many folks come to him to remain at their house or to supply him with house cooked meals and water. “I know the hospitality I have received after leaving Pakistan will not be the same, but I have some friends and links who can help me,” he says.

    The journey is lengthy and troublesome. It will take no less than 9 months, in a method. The weight that Arshad carries often is the one which slows him down, however along with his prior expertise of touring on foot, he has purchased 4 trousers, 4 shirts, an umbrella, some medicines, a water bottle, just one Left his home with the bag. and dates. He says, “If I want one thing alongside the best way, I’ll purchase it; With such an extended plan of transferring it will have been a trouble to hold every part alongside. Any additional weight can gradual me down and make me drained.”

    The pupil of communication research is making a mark for himself and making Pakistan proud. Arshad has taken the nice duty of finishing up the very best pilgrimage of Islam, counting on his household and buddies. “When I told my parents what I was planning, they were not comfortable with the idea at first. They told me to seriously consider it, but I was adamant, and I was convinced,” Arshad shares. His mom had many insecurities when it comes to her security, well-being and the hardships of such an extended journey. But Arshad determined to journey defying all odds. “I bought immense assist from my family and friends. , and that assist is just not solely within the type of incentives but additionally monetary. The value of all the plan is round Rs.15 lakhs.’

    Arshad makes his dwelling by way of some freelancing tasks however that could be a minimal quantity which he makes use of for himself. He is utilizing his financial savings for Haj and his household can be serving to him financially.

    Never had the enthusiastic younger Pakistani imagined that his go to to Khunjerab Pass final 12 months would deliver him a lot assist from folks throughout the nation, encouraging him to take his plans additional. “I used to get calls from people asking me when I would reach their city so that they could host me. And even now, since the beginning of my journey, I am getting calls from people who are waiting to host me on my religious journey.”

    Arshad walks for about eight hours a day and rests at evening. He makes stopovers for meals, to make use of the bathroom, and to cost his cellphone.

    Usman Arshad says that he has not deliberate the place he’ll stroll subsequent, however he will certainly maintain going because it offers him peace of thoughts.


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