MULTAN (APP): Pre Hajj Operation began from Multan International Airport (MIAP) with 326 intending pilgrims on board at Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) which departed for Madina here on Tuesday. 
Senator, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani along with Airport Manager (APM), Syed Ghazanfar Raza, PIA Chief Information officer, Saqlain Gardezi, Director Hajj Rehan Abbas Khokhar, PIA Distt Manager, Ghazanfar Akhtar, PIA Station Manager and  Nadeem Murtaza  saw off the pilgrims.
Exactly 52 flights of PIA, Saudi Airline and Air Blue will carry approximately 12,000 pilgrims from Multan during pre Hajj operations this year which will conclude on June 22.    

The first PIA flight no 715 was Boeing 777 that left for Medina today.
A ceremony was held at MIAP to see off the pilgrims of the first flight attended among others by Hajj Directorate, CAA, PIA, ASF officials.
Addressing the ceremony, Senator Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani congratulated the pilgrims saying that they were lucky to be chosen for the sacred Islamic duty.
He said that only those who were called  had the chance to go for Hajj  every year adding that they were the ambassador of the country and the region on the Holy Land and are expected to behave in a civilized  and good manners which will appease Allah Almighty, Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and Saudi citizens.

The Senator informed that this year 11,500 pilgrims would travel from Multan with an expenditure of over Rs11 lakh for each pilgrim and added that the government would pay Rs 55,000 for each pilgrim to sacrificial animals and it had made best arrangements for them. 
He asked the intending pilgrims to pray for the progress and prosperity of the country besides for martyrs, Pakistan Movement Leaders and workers and for poor segments of the society. 
Gilani paid rich tribute to the former federal minister for Religious Affairs. Maulana Abdul Shakoor  for his meritorious services to the pilgrims last year and requested the this year  pilgrims to remember the deceased in their special prayers.
He reminisced that the first time he was invited by ex PM, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif for opening of the airport and it was second time when he (Gilani) had come to it  to say goodbye to them.
The Senator told the audience that as PM he had first of all made the runway for MIAP so that big aircrafts could land here  easily so that they don’t have to travel to Karachi to catch their flight for Haj like in the past.
Airport Manager, Syed Ghazanfar Raza felicitated the pilgrims and said that Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had made excellent arrangements including tying of Ihram, ablution and for offering prayers at the airport not only as a duty but as a blessing for it. 
He requested  them to pray for the country’s welfare.
Director Hajj, Rehan Abbas Khokhar highlighted the facilities being facilitated for the pilgrims at the Hajj Complex adding that it was built when Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani was speaker of the National Assembly.
He mentioned Gilani’s contributions as ex PM for the country and the region.
He said that MIAP was not less than a gift for South Punjab as direct Hajj flights and world known airlines started its operations from Multan after building of a new airport. Later, Yusuf Raza Gilani saw off after garlanding them.

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