The Pakistani peace walker, Kharlzada Kasrat Rai, has praised the hospitality of expats and Saudis alike. Talking to Arab News at its office on Monday, he said: “Every step taken in the desert is, in itself, a challenge. I covered over 6,000 km by foot. My determination to reach Makkah and witness the marvels of Madinah only added to my resilience to complete my journey,” said Rai.
Rai, 37, wished to become the first person to walk for peace from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia and intends to perform Haj this year. Rai left Karachi on June 7 and walked 6,387 km through Iran, Iraq and Jordan before entering into the Kingdom through Tabuk. He met with AN staff to share his experience and to thank the paper for its support when he entered the Kingdom through Jordan about 24 days ago. “Walking through troubled countries such as Pakistan and Iraq is not an easy task,” he said. Rai walked through stretches of up to 300 km of barren land in Iraq and Jordan.
Rai said there would sometimes be no space on the side road to sleep and that security authorities would often give him a place to stay for the night. “Security authorities would often mark the last point where I stopped, including the direction. They would give me a place to sleep in and I would embark on my journey from the marked location the following day.”Rai also said that he had experienced more difficulty walking after wearing the “Ihram” (the cloth worn during Haj and Umrah) in Madinah last week, since his strides were restricted by the attire. “My feet were wounded due to the high temperatures of the asphalt I treaded on. I had to change my footwear every couple of hours.” Rai said he was touched by people he met along the way. “Laborers and truck drivers kept offering me money. I would take only a symbolic amount to humor them.”