Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri who reached Lahore on Monday morning was greeting by a throng of supporters and activists at Allama Iqbal International Airport. Heavy security arrangements were in place for the PAT leader’s arrival.
Although the party earlier refused to accept Punjab police security cover, the provincial government has provided eight Elite Forces vehicles to accompany Qadri’s convoy.
The cleric’s own car is a bullet-proof vehicle purchased for him by PAT leadership, according to an official communiqué. A 150-strong PAT youth force contingent will also provide security to Qadri. The PAT chief will be received by the party’s Lahore chapter. Organisers earlier claimed to have an assembly of at least 4,000 activists outside the airport. From the airport, the PAT chief will lead a rally up to his Model Town home stopping at six points on the way – Bhatta Chowk, Ghazi Road, Qainchi Amar Sadhu, Kot Lakhpat, Akbar Chowk and Faisal Town – to wave to those coming to welcome him and join his procession. Qadri makes his return to Pakistan just days after launching a “counter-terrorism” curriculum in London to rebut the message of militancy propagated by the Islamic State (IS) in order to prevent radicalisation of youths.
He has returned to Pakistan after nearly seven months spent abroad for medical treatment. The PAT chief upon arrival in Pakistan in June last year, called for a “peaceful revolution” against the government, as his supporters engaged in violent clashes with police. Joining Pakistan Tehkreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) dharna last year, Qadri and his supporters rallied for the resignation of the PML-N government. In January 2013, the cleric drew tens of thousands of people to his ‘long march’ and sit-in protest in Islamabad.