11 December 2023
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PIA resumed direct flights to the Iraqi city of Najaf on Sunday carrying 91 passengers aboard.

CEO of the national carrier Air Marshal Arshad Malik and Ambassador of Iraq to Pakistan Hamid Abbas Lafta were among the passengers of PK 291.

According to a communique by the Pakistani embassy in Iraq, this marked the resumption of direct flights to the city.

Upon their arrival in Najaf, they were welcomed by Pakistan’s Ambassador to Iraq Ahmad Amjad Ali, the governor of Najaf and top Iraqi civil aviation officials.

Highlighting Najaf’s historical importance, Air Marshal Arshad Malik said that it was among top destinations for Pakistani pilgrims, adding that the city was holy for all Muslim denominations.

“This flight carries with it a message of love from Pakistani people.

According to a spokesman of PIA, the Pakistani delegation returned home on the same flight.

On the occasion of Ashura, the airline decided to run special flights to Najaf. The decision was taken to help pilgrims travelling to Iraq in Muharram.

Later, a private airline in Iraq began direct flights to Pakistan. The first flight from Najaf to Karachi took off on July 16. Flights from Baghdad are being operated as well.

On September 18 this year, a special PIA flight carrying 322 pilgrims landed in Syria’s Damascus after 22 years.

The national carrier was welcomed with a water gun salute at the Damascus airport.

Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan and PIA CEO Arshad Malik were on board as well.

The transport minister of the city lauded the development and said that the next step will be to convert these special flights into regularly scheduled flights.

Abdul Gh Lone