FAISALABAD: The first PIA Haj flight departed for Saudi Arabia from the Faisalabad International Airport on Sunday with 156 pilgrims. Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan sent off the pilgrims. Deputy Commissioner Ali Anan Qamar, General Manager PIA Muhammad Shafiq, DM PIA Shahid Hussain, Airport Manager Anwar Zia, Deputy Director of Directorate of Haj Arif Zahoor Hussain, CPO Usman Akram, other administrative officers and relatives of pilgrims were also present.
The interior minister congratulated the pilgrims and said that Allah Almighty had called them for a sacred visit. The minister said the Saudi ministry of interior had signed an agreement for the immigration of 36,000 pilgrims under the Road to Makkah Project. But on the Pakistan government’s request, it increased the number to 40,000.
He added that 40,000 pilgrims from Peshawar and Islamabad would have immigration under the same agreement, while from next year, pilgrims from other cities, including Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad, would also be able to get the facility. Manager Anwar Zia said 22 PIA flights would mark the pre-Haj operation starting from May 21, which would continue till June 16, while 3,500 pilgrims from Faisalabad would enjoy the blessing of Haj Baitullah. He said that on Sunday, the first flight left for Madina, while seven flights would depart from Faisalabad to Karachi, Madina and 15 flights would depart from Faisalabad to Karachi and Jeddah. All necessary arrangements had been completed for the purpose.