Qadri arrives homeland after plane diversion

LAHORE: Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri on Monday arrived in Lahore airport after his flight was diverted from Islamabad.

Emirates Airline flight EK-612 carrying PAT chief from Dubai was diverted from Islamabad airport and landed at Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore at about 9:30 am, where Dr Qadri refused to disembark from the plane.

Earlier, 24 policemen were injured in clashes with PAT supporters in the twin cities Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The clashes occurred ahead of Qadri’s return to Pakistan to lead what he has called an anti-government revolution.

Qadri’s supporters, including a large number of women, managed to breach police cordons to arrive at the Islamabad airport, chanting slogans as “Long live Tahir-ul-Qadri” and “Revolution, Revolution, Islamic Revolution”.

Strict security measures were taken at Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore. Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar arrived at Lahore airport and held a meeting with Dr Qadri in the plane. Qadri had set condition to the government that he would only disembark from the plane if Punjab government accompanies him to his Model Town residence.

Qadri had also said that he along with Punjab governor would inquire about the health of injured workers at Jinnah Hospital Lahore and later proceed to his party secretariat and residence in Model Town.

Heavy contingents of police were deputed along the route leading Jinnah Hospital and Model Town. The tension gripped Lahore as a large number of PAT supporters arrived at the Lahore airport after their leader’s flight was diverted from Islamabad.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said Tahirul Qadri had made hostage the plane of a foreign country along with the passengers by refusing to get off the plane.

In a statement, he said the decision to divert plane from Islamabad to Lahore was taken for the security of PAT chief and the passengers. Any untoward incident could occur at the Islamabad airport in the presence of charged crowd there. He said the workers of Qadri are resorting to lawlessness.

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