Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has started its pre-Hajj operation on Monday as first Hajj flight carrying 325 intending pilgrims left for Madina from Allama Iqbal International Airport.
Secretary Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Khalid Masood Chaudhry along with provincial minister Zaeem Qadri, Chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board Siddiq-ul- Farooq, Hajj Director Lahore Saeed Ahmed Malik and other officials of Hajj Directorate saw off pilgrims at the airport.
Talking to the media, Secretary Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Khalid Masood Chaudhry said that all arrangements of food and accommodation for pilgrims had been finalized and all intending pilgrims would be sent to Saudi Arabia through 426 flights.
He said the ministry was trying to provide best facilities to the pilgrims as it did during last three years.
He appealed to the pilgrims to follow the laws of Saudi Arabia and show patience during their stay.
Talking to media persons, Hajj Director Lahore Saeed Ahmed Malik said that during the first fifteen days of haj operation, flights would reach Madina, while other flights would reach directly to Jeddah from Pakistan.
The hajj operation will continue till August 25 and a total of 107,526 Pakistanis will leave for hajj from different cities of the country while intending pilgrims are being informed about the schedule through SMS and letters, he added.
Under the government Hajj scheme, intending pilgrims will be airlifted from Pakistan to the holy land by designated airlines including Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Shaheen Airlines, Saudi Airlines and Air Blue.
The Government Hajj Scheme would operate from Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Sialkot, Multan, Faisalabad, Rahim Yar Khan and Sukkur gateways, he added.
Malik said that special information booths had been set up and pilgrims were also being vaccinated while all the hajj related items including Tasbih, Jaye-e-Namaz and bags to intending pilgrims were also being provided on subsidized rates at Hajj Directorate.
This year 107,526 people will perform Hajj under government scheme, while 71,000 will perform Hajj through private scheme.
The return of Hajis will start from September 6 and post hajj operation will be completed by October 5.