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Pakistani Cleric Returns to Lead 'Revolution'

  • VOA News

A prominent Pakistani cleric who lives in Canada arrived in Lahore Monday after his plane was diverted from Islamabad following clashes between his supporters and police at Islamabad's airport.

Tahir-ul-Qadri returned to Pakistan to lead a self-proclaimed revolution against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Security was tight Monday ahead of Qadri's planned arrival in Islamabad. Armed guards were stationed around the capital and roads leading to the airport were blocked with shipping containers in an effort to deter the cleric's supporters.

However, some of Qadri's supporters pelted police officers with sticks and stones, while the police retaliated by firing tear gas.

Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority said Qadri's flight was diverted to Lahore "to ensure the safety of the passengers and aircraft."

Qadri, a religiously moderate cleric, has a large following in Pakistan.

Some analysts believe he is also supported by the country's powerful military establishment as a way to keep civilian authorities in check.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.