LAHORE - Religious scholars highlighted the message of peace and unity on the first day and first phase of the annual Raiwind congregation on Thursday.

Thousands of people from the country and abroad reached to participate in the ijtima which is considered as the biggest gathering of Muslims after the Haj.

Renowned scholars from India and other countries are also participating in the congregation and will address the participants.

The congregation will be concluded by the special prayer on Sunday afternoon. Around a million people are expected to attend the special prayer then.

The congregation, as usual, has been divided into two phases. People from Lahore, Kasur, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Sheikhupura, Hafizabad, Narowal, Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Jhang, Mandi Bahauddin,  Okara, Sahiwal, Pakpattan, Sargodha, Khushab, Bhakkar and Mianwali from Punjab; Peshawar, Swat, Nowshera, Charsadda, Khyber Agency, Mohmand Agency, Landi Kotal, Malakand (North), Bunair, Batkhela, Martung, Bajour, Dir, Chitral, Utmankhel, Gilgat, Bisham, Chilas, Mansehra, Abbotabad, Haripur from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; and Hyderabad, Shikarpur, Dadu, Ghotki, Larkana, Nawabshah, Tharparkar, Mitthi, Sangar, Sukkur and Thatta from Sindh are participating in first phase. Whereas, people from the rest of cities will attend the congregation in second phase which will start on November 13.

Pakistan Railways is operating four special trains to facilitate the participants of the annual congregation. The Railways Police has also made special security arrangement at Raiwind Railways Station. The PR has announced to operate three special trains to facilitate the participants of second phase. The trains would be operated on November 12 from Quetta and Karachi.

The Lahore Transport Company (LTC), in cooperation with private transport operators, has planned to ply around 100 buses/mini buses in order to facilitate the commuters amid Raiwand congregation. Their operation will continue for three days.

Traffic wardens, Rescue 1122, Edhi Service, besides heavy contingent of police, have been deployed at Raiwind Road.