ISLAMABAD - Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)’s flight PK-3902 carrying the first batch of 500 Hujjaj arrived at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport from Saudi Arabia Sunday evening.

Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Senator Pervaiz Rashid welcomed the pilgrims, including Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf and Minister of State for Religious Affairs Pir Muhammad Amin-ul-Hasnat Shah, who returned after performing the religious obligation at the holy land.

Talking to reporters, the Information Minister expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made to ensure maximum facilities for Pakistani pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, saying that it was heartening to see smooth completion of all operations.

He said the pilgrims had acknowledged the services and expertise of Ministry of Religious Affairs in providing all guidance and facilities to them not only in Pakistan but also in Saudi Arabia during the Haj days.

He said it was a big achievement of the ministry that the Pakistani pilgrims faced no difficulties in performing Haj rituals as all arrangements were well-organized.

Pervaiz Rashid thanked the Saudi authorities for extending all possible cooperation and facilities to the Pakistani Hujjaj during their stay at the holy land. He said the pilgrims had performed all Haj rituals in a smooth manner. 

He also appreciated the Ministry of Religious Affairs for conducting the entire Haj operation in a smooth and flawless manner. He expressed the confidence that innovative and radical arrangements would be made for intending pilgrims next year under the guidance and leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

The successful completion of Haj operation, the minister said, was the result of keen interest shown by the Prime Minister in making arrangements with special focus to extend every possible facility to the pilgrims.

Replying to a question, he said there was a little delay in departure of other airlines flights due to increased number of pilgrims at the Jeddah airport, but PIA’s Haj flight operation was continuing as per its schedule.

Answering another question, he said the democratically elected government would follow the mandate given by the All Parties Conference regarding dialogue with Taliban in letter and spirit as future of the country and younger generation was associated with it.

Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf said he was supervising the Haj arrangements since June 14 and was in constant contact with Saudi authorities to ensure improved arrangements.

Meanwhile, first Post Haj flight PK 3202 which arrived at Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore at 4:00 AM early morning while the first Post Haj flight for Peshawar PK 3602 arrived at 8:00 AM, Spokesman of the airline said here on Sunday.

It was further told that 7 flights scheduled for arrival on Sunday from Jeddah to major cities of Pakistan included PK 3302 for Lahore, PK 3902 & PK 3102 for Islamabad and PK 3702 for Quetta, bringing back more than 2800 pilgrims.

From Jeddah Haj Terminal, the pilgrims were seen off by PIA Country Manager KSA, Shabaz Ahmed, PIA Chief Haj Coordinator Shah Nawaz Rehman, Dy. Haj Coordinator, Captain Anwar Adil, General Manager Passenger Handling Services, Aamir Bashir and PIA Scouts. The Hujjaj were received and presented rose garlands by PIA senior Officials at Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta airports. At Lahore, Hajis were received by PIA District Manager Umar Daraz, at Peshawar Hajis were received by District Manager, Tariq Javed, While Hajis at Islamabad were received and welcomed by Ali Akbar Pathan and Muhammad Arshad. The Hajis at Quetta were received by Jan Muhammad Kakar among other PIA officials.

The first Post Haj flight for Karachi will reach on 21 October Midnight 12:00. AM..

Managing Director PIA is in constant communication with PIA senior officials deputed at Jeddah Haj Terminal for facilitation of returning Hajis and flight departures.

PIA will bring back more than 67,000 pilgrims to Pakistan through 149 Post Haj flights and regular Scheduled flights to Pakistan. The Post Haj operation will conclude on 19 November 2013.