Anti-government cleric returns to Pakistan, supporters clash with police

Posted: June 24, 2014 in Current Affairs
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A prominent cleric landed in Pakistan on Monday after his plane was diverted from the capital Islamabad where his supporters clashed with police amid government concerns about the return of a man who describes himself as a revolutionary.

Tahirul Qadri, a Pakistani preacher turned political activist who usually lives Canada, is a divisive figure in Pakistan where he made headlines last year when he led mass rallies against the previous government.

The plane carrying Qadri circled above Benazir Bhutto International Airport near Islamabad for an hour and a half before it was diverted to the eastern city of Lahore.

“We want no corruption, we want no terrorism in our country,” Qadri told Reuters aboard the plane. “We want total transparency of institutions.”Qadri’s spokesman Shahid Mursaleen said Qadri wanted to stage an Arab spring-style revolt and install a government that would enforce reform, tackle terrorism and improve accountability.

“He wants to bring a peaceful democratic revolution,” Mursaleen told Reuters. “He wants to topple the whole system.”

Outside Lahore airport, about 700 supporters held a peaceful rally shouting “Long live Qadri”.

“Long live the army!” and “Revolution will come!” chanted his supporters who had gathered outside the airport in the military garrison city of Rawalpindi near Islamabad.

“We just want to give a peaceful welcome to our leader but they (government) pounded us with heavy tear gas,” said one protester, Tajamul Hussain, in his early 20s.

“Their days are numbered, God willing Doctor Qadri will bring revolution to Pakistan.”

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