Pakistan diverts plane carrying Canada-based anti-government cleric to Lahore over security, official says

Published: June 23, 2014

Canada-based Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri gestures the victory sign as he visits a hospital, where his supporters are admitted after getting injured during clashes with police, in Lahore on June 23, 2014. Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

ZARAR KHAN and REBECCA SANTANA
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan diverted a passenger plane carrying an anti-government cleric to Lahore on Monday out of security concerns, said an official, leading to a standoff in which the cleric refused for hours to get off the aircraft while it waited on the tarmac.

The Pakistani cleric, Tahir-ul-Qadri, lives mostly in Canada but has a large following in his network of mosques and religious centres across Pakistan. Last year he threw the capital into crisis for days when he led rallies of thousands of people in the centre of Islamabad to demand electoral reforms.

This time he returned to the limelight — and the country — promising to lead more rallies against the government.

Qadri was scheduled to arrive on an Emirates flight from Dubai Monday morning, but the flight was first delayed and then diverted in-flight to Lahore, said a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, Abid Qaimkhani.

The Dubai-based airline told The Associated Press that the flight was diverted on the instruction of Pakistani authorities. They said the crew and passengers were safe and that they were working on getting passengers to their original destination.

The cleric’s supporters clashed with police as they tried to get to the airport in Rawalpindi next to the capital, and the police used tear gas to try to keep them away.

The Monday incident came after an even more serious altercation last week that heightened tensions ahead of Qadri’s return. Eight people were shot and killed during clashes between Qadri’s supporters and police in Lahore on Tuesday. Both sides blamed the other for the shooting. The altercation started when police tried to remove barriers around Qadri’s residence and religious centre.

Authorities appeared to be preparing for similar violence with Qadri’s supporters even before he’d arrived. They cut off cellphone service in parts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi in the morning and used shipping containers to block off access to areas of the city where there are sensitive government offices. Senior police officer Mirza Tahir Sikandar said 30 police were injured during Monday’s clashes.

Once in Lahore, the government and Qadri negotiated for hours as officials tried to encourage him to leave the plane.

The cleric first demanded top military figures meet him at the airport to ensure his safety, said provincial Law Minister Rana Mashood. The government instead brought in some of Qadri’s close relatives and party officials to talk to him, said Mashood.

The cleric later demanded an armoured vehicle and guards be brought to the tarmac, Mashood said. The situation was resolved once the provincial Gov. Chaudhry Mohamad Sarwar, called Qadri directly and agreed to meet him at the airport and escort him to his home in Lahore, said Mashood.

Qadri on Twitter accused the government of hijacking the plane and demanded to be taken back to Islamabad. But by late afternoon he said he had accepted an offer to leave the plane with a security escort.

The cleric’s return comes at a particularly sensitive time for the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. A little over a week ago the military launched a long-awaited military offensive against militants in the North Waziristan tribal area bordering Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced as the military carries out airstrikes against militant targets.

—-

Associated Press writers Zaheer Babar in Lahore and Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

08:21ET 23-06-14

[+]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Readers Comments (0)

Comments are closed.

Featured

babe SEXY BOLLYWOOD desi

B.C.’s Miss India Canada pageant contestant sues ex-boyfriend to pay for tuition for failed class after breakup

KAMLOOPS THIS WEEK KAMLOOPS — A 22-year-old B.C. woman is suing her ex-boyfriend to pay tuition for a class she says she failed due to distress…
Continue Reading »

Longtime Surrey politician and former mayor Bob Bose is pictured here near his south Surrey home on Monday, November 21, 2011. Jenelle Schneider/PNG

Former Surrey mayor Bob Bose backs Barinder Rasode, says no Surrey Matters slate coming

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — Though Coun. Barinder Rasode has yet to officially announce her intentions to run for the city’s top job, she’s…
Continue Reading »

A Pakistani-Canadian blogger has released Pakistan's first-ever anti-homophobia children's book. Submitted photo/Nicemangos.blogspot.ca.

Toronto-based blogger releases Pakistan’s first anti-homophobia children’s book

VANCOUVER DESI A Toronto-based Pakistani blogger has written and released Pakistan’s first-ever anti-homophobia children’s book. Blogger Eiynah, known for her site Nice Mangos where she…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

babe SEXY BOLLYWOOD desi

B.C.’s Miss India Canada pageant contestant sues ex-boyfriend to pay for tuition for failed class after breakup

KAMLOOPS THIS WEEK KAMLOOPS — A 22-year-old B.C. woman is suing her ex-boyfriend to pay tuition for a class she says she failed due to distress…
Continue Reading »

Longtime Surrey politician and former mayor Bob Bose is pictured here near his south Surrey home on Monday, November 21, 2011. Jenelle Schneider/PNG

Former Surrey mayor Bob Bose backs Barinder Rasode, says no Surrey Matters slate coming

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — Though Coun. Barinder Rasode has yet to officially announce her intentions to run for the city’s top job, she’s…
Continue Reading »

A Pakistani-Canadian blogger has released Pakistan's first-ever anti-homophobia children's book. Submitted photo/Nicemangos.blogspot.ca.

Toronto-based blogger releases Pakistan’s first anti-homophobia children’s book

VANCOUVER DESI A Toronto-based Pakistani blogger has written and released Pakistan’s first-ever anti-homophobia children’s book. Blogger Eiynah, known for her site Nice Mangos where she…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

jail sex

B.C. Supreme Court to decide if Kamloops Mountie watching women have sex in jail is a crime

THE CANADIAN PRESS KAMLOOPS, B.C. — A judge wants to hear arguments from lawyers about the legality of the charge against an RCMP corporal accused…
Continue Reading »

Rice Bucket India poverty

India’s Rice Bucket Challenge gives a ‘meaningful twist’ to ALS ice bucket challenge

VANCOUVER DESI India has created its own “desi” version of the ALS ice bucket challenge that has swept the globe. While the original icy cold…
Continue Reading »

India

Man proudly wears world’s largest turban weighing in at 100 pounds and 645 metres long unwrapped

VANCOUVER DESI A 60-year-old devout Sikh in northern India appears to be the proud owner of the world’s largest turban – weighing in at 100…
Continue Reading »

Elephant headed god

Gallery: India prepares to welcome elephant-headed Lord Ganesha

VANCOUVER DESI Preparations for Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival marking the birth of the elephant-headed god, have taken off in India as Hindus prepare to welcome…
Continue Reading »

Witches Burned Victim Alive In Front Of Family

Witches burn Indian dad alive in a bizarre ritual in front of his wife and 10-year-old son

CEN AGENCY Witches who burned a man alive after chopping off his arms in a bizarre ritual have been seized by police in central India….
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Newly-elected Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament and Indian Bollywood actor Paresh Rawal arrives in Parliament in New Delhi on May 20, 2014. India's Narendra Modi is expected to formally declare his intention to form the next government May 20, days after his Hindu nationalist party won the first parliamentary majority in three decades. PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

No one else can play the role: Paresh Rawal on Modi biopic

IANS Mumbai  – Versatile actor Paresh Rawal, who will soon start shooting for a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, says he is the right…
Continue Reading »

hot photos desi actress bollywood sex

Gallery: Deepika Padukone photo shoot

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood beauty Deepika Padukone, who is creating a lot of buzz with her upcoming film Finding Fanny, poses for the camera. Related Stories:…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood desi boobs sex

Bollywood’s bold babe Sherlyn Chopra strips for Playboy

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood actress Sherlyn Chopra marks the first-ever Indian model to pose for Playboy magazine, according to eonline.com. While the 30-year-old announced she’d be…
Continue Reading »