LAHORE/ISLAMABAD - Shortly after his arrival at the PAT secretariat in Lahore on Monday evening after daylong haggling, Tahirul Qadri said the government committed a “terrorist act” by diverting his plane from Islamabad where he was originally scheduled to land.In a flamboyant tone typical of him, the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) chief said he thanks God for his presence among his people in the face of political highhandedness.Addressing party workers, Qadri said he was determined to bring about a revolution, and would give a fresh protest call very soon after consulting his party members. He also lauded the media, terming it his “revolutionary army”, adding that now the world will witness Pakistani revolution.The PAT chief said God has given him wealth, respect and recognition, but he has come to Pakistan for the people of this country the future of which has become bleak due to the corrupt system.He told his followers that soon the government will be toppled and the leaders will be held accountable, saying that he can be killed but the revolution will not stop. About the Model Town incident, he said police action on June 17 could have been averted had the government consulted the Punjab governor before resorting to the extreme measure.Qadri termed the Sharif brothers “killers” and said they would be sent to jail one day for the oppression they unleashed on the people.As the plane carrying Qadri approached Benazir Bhutto International Airport near Islamabad, violence broke out on the ground. Police fired tear gas at scores of his supporters in chaotic scenes rarely seen in the orderly capital.The plane was diverted to Lahore “to ensure the safety of the passengers and aircraft”, according to a civil aviation official. But for several hours (at least 6 hours) Qadri refused to get off.The 63-year-old demanded protection from the military before agreeing to disembark. He agreed to leave only when assured about security to his life. When he left the aircraft he was accompanied by Punjab Governor Muhammad Sarwar and opposition politician Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.Qadri first visited Jinnah Hospital in Lahore where those injured in last week’s clashes are admitted, before going to PAT secretariat.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”.Surveillance helicopters flew overhead as police fired tear gas at the crowd occupying the area outside the airport, an AFP reporter said.Meanwhile, Provincial Law Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan has said that the PML-N government has put the country on the road to progress and prosperity in a year but political opponents want to derail the development process. He said that the nation has seen the real face of Qadri on his arrival in the country and it has become fully aware that chaos is the PAT chief’s manifesto and power his agenda.Talking to media outside Punjab Assembly on Monday, the newly-appointed law minister said that being a foreigner in what capacity Tahirul Qadri can ask for security from the Pak Army. He said that PAT chief had been demanding security while sitting in a plane but he was not worried about the security of his workers standing on roads. He said Ch Pervaiz Elahi was trying to gain political mileage by relying on Tahirul Qadri.The minister said the so-called revolutionary leader staged a drama after landing. He said that due to childish act of Qadri, Pakistan has become a laughing stock and it has further damaged the image of the country. He said that it was stance of Punjab government that the entire nation should stand by Pak Army in operation Zarb-e-Azb therefore this message should be conveyed to the world that Pakistani nation is united against terrorism. Mashhood said that despite rowdy-ism and attack on police officials by the workers of Awami Tehrik in Rawalpindi, police displayed restraint. He said that the credit of peaceful end of the drama staged by Qadri goes to democratic vision of the prime minister and the Punjab chief minister.He said that the Punjab government had made special security arrangements for the protection of these innocent people in Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Lahore but the plane had to be diverted as the workers of Awami Tehrik damaged public property in Rawalpindi and tried to take over airport, creating threats to airport security and the plane of Emirates.
Published in The Nation newspaper on 24-Jun-2014