- PAT chief says will launch movement for revolution ‘soon‘, will avenge killing of PAT workers
- PAT workers clash with police in Islamabad and Rawalpindi as Qadri’s plane is diverted to Lahore for ‘security reasons’
- Qadri says will register hijacking and murder cases against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif
After finally reaching Lahore on Monday following an overly dramatic series of events, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri vowed to bring about a revolution in the country and avenge the killing of his supporters.
Qadri landed in Lahore after his flight was diverted from Islamabad following PAT-police clashes at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) which left several policemen injured. PAT chief’s supporters, armed with sticks and bricks, clashed with baton-wielding police at the airport where he had been due to arrive on an Emirates flight on Monday morning.
A spokesman for Islamabad Police said more than 70 officers were wounded with several suffering broken bones and head injuries.
Security was tight in Islamabad before his expected arrival, with the government deploying armed personnel at all entry and exit points of the capital and blocking roads to the airport with shipping containers.
However, Qadri’s supporters, including a large number of women, managed to breach police cordons to arrive at Islamabad airport overnight, chanting “Long live Tahirul Qadri” and “Revolution, revolution, Islamic revolution”.
FROM ISLAMABAD TO LAHORE:
Police-PAT clash continued to draw blood as Qadri’s plane made rounds over the capital’s airport before leaving for Lahore.
The plane was diverted to Lahore “to ensure the safety of the passengers and aircraft”, according to a civil aviation official.
However, after reaching Lahore, for several hours Qadri remained adamant that this was not the place where he was supposed to be. The reformist cleric tested the patience of the provincial and federal governments when he refused to come out of the foreign flight carrying a huge delegation of PAT leaders also accompanying Qadri from Canada and Dubai. Qadri insisted that he would go back to Islamabad where he was to be landed as per his initial plans to lead a march towards Gujrat. The 63-year-old also demanded protection from the military.
But the government talking tough and not afraid of using strong arms tactics against Qadri and his supporters was not ready to yield to his demands, saying the security conditions did not allow it to let Qadri land in federal capital.
However, the drop scene awaited by the people came about by evening when Qadri conveyed to the negotiating teams that he could leave the plane if received by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, being the representative of the federal government as he did not want to talk to somebody from the provincial government led by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Qadri’s wish was granted sooner than later as both Sarwar and PML-Q leader Pervaiz Elahi met Qadri in the plane and brought him out with full protocol. Dr Qadri said he agreed to come out of the plane because he considered Sarwar as his brother and not as representative of the government.
In the meantime, PAT supporters in huge numbers gathered at the Lahore Airport to receive their spiritual leader. They breached the security with impunity and reached the premises of the airport. Huge police contingent along with the ASF tried to stop the crowd gathered on this occasion.
Some clashes with police also took place while police kept its cool this time as the sentiments were high against the Punjab government and police.
QADRI REACHES LAHORE’S JINNAH HOSPITAL:
From Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport, Dr Qadri left for Jinnah Hospital to enquire about the health of the party workers who were injured in police firing during Model Town tragedy on June 17.
The Punjab governor and PML-Q leader Elahi were accompanying the PAT chief along with a huge delegation of PAT leaders. A large number of party workers, including women, were present in the premises of Jinnah Hospital and surrounded the party chief to welcome him.
Police officials were appointed at the route to Jinnah Hospital and Model Town while CCPO Zulfiqar Hamid also accompanied Qadri’s convoy.
Speaking to reporters at MS Office at Jinnah Hospital, Dr Qadri maintained that he would bring about a revolution in Pakistan.
Terming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Nawaz Sharif as “Hitler”, the controversial cleric said that PML-N government had written “new history of barbarism”.
“I have first come to hospital to see my injured workers. The Model Town tragedy is the worst example of state-sponsored terrorism,” he said, lashing out at Shahbaz Sharif for the Model Town incident, in which over 12 PAT’s workers were killed by the police.
“Police opened straight fire on our workers, including women. The government hijacked my plane. But I have kept my promise of returning to Pakistan to lead the revolution.”
Qadri said that thousands of supporters were present at the Islamabad airport and questioned that why their sentiments were hurt by diverting his flight to Lahore and asking him to exit the plane. He said that he was a Pakistani citizen and it was his right to land anywhere he wants. While demanding an explanation for diverting his flight to Lahore, Qadri said that it was not a right decision to divert his flight.
Qadri said that he was determined to register case against prime minister for hijacking his plane as well as for the killing of the PAT workers. He also thanked the role played by media and support he got from other political parties.
ARRIVAL AT MINHAJ:
After leaving his mark at the Jinnah Hospital, Qadri arrived at Minhajul Quran Secretariat where apart from a large number of supporters, he was welcomed by huge posters of those who were killed at the hands of police brutality. The posters were prominently placed on the walls.
Addressing a charged and mammoth crowd during heavy downpour in the city after a day-long confrontation with the government, the Canada-based cleric said that the days of the present government were over.
Speaking with full force, he used a very hostile and critical language against the Sharifs on this occasion, terming Shahbaz Sharif as “Qatil-e-Ala”. He said he would hold both Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif accountable for their alleged corruption and how they managed huge properties and businesses both inside and outside the country.
Qadri said that the blood given by the innocents had already laid the foundation of revolution in the country. He said he would soon give the final call for revolution.
THAT’S ALL FOLKS:
Qadri in January last year drew thousands of people to a sit-in protest in Islamabad. He had led a sit-in protest lasting over four days while the previous Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government was in power, four months before it lost the May 2013 general election to Sharif’s party.
The PAT chief had demanded the early dissolution of the PPP government and implementation of a caretaker setup backed by the military and judiciary in consultation with his party, PAT.
But despite intense media interest, the protest had little long-term impact – Qadri ended his sit-in after talks with ministers and the election went ahead as planned.
Qadri is the founding leader of Minhajul Quran International (MQI), an organisation with branches in more than 90 countries which allegedly works to promote peace and harmony between communities.