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Police and PAT activists clash on a main road in Islamabad. — Photo by Ishaque Chaudhry
Police and PAT activists clash on a main road in Islamabad. — Photo by Ishaque Chaudhry

RAWALPINDI: Monday was an eventful day for the people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad as authorities upset Dr Tahirul Qadri’s anti-government protest plans for the day, and yet the fiery religious leader gained political mileage anyway.

By diverting the Emirates’ flight bringing the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief to Islamabad the decision makers only shifted the high drama to Lahore, said people discomfited by the events that surrounded Dr Qadri’s plan to lead a motorised protest rally from Islamabad airport all the way to Lahore and the PML-N government’s anxiety to prevent it.

Government had genuine security concerns as Qadri’s followers, already angry over the police crackdown outside his Minhajul Quran secretariat in Lahore that killed 12 PAT workers, gathered in large numbers at Islamabad airport after battling with the police deployed there.

PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain reached the airport with two party comrades and Maulana Hamid Raza, president of the Sunni Ittehad Council of Faisalabad, at 7am to greet PAT chief. But were not allowed in.

Ironically, authorities did the trick for him by diverting his flight to Lahore

After an hour, the guards opened the airport gate for them, allegedly on receiving a nod from Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. “I will talk to you later,” the PML-Q leader told reporters, barred like him, as television anchor Mubashir Luqman drove him and others inside.

His departure signaled to the charged followers of Dr Qadri bracing teargas shells fired by the police outside that their leader would soon be landing. However, it proved a wrong signal as TV channels broke the news that the authorities had diverted the Emirates Airline flight to Lahore.

It appeared to be a sudden decision. It followed a meeting the Rawalpindi district administration held with the PML-Q leaders at 8:10am, just minutes before the scheduled landing.

Street battles that had been going on between the police and PAT supporters since dawn had intensified in the meantime. After the politically damaging bloody action in Lahore, police had orders not to use arms and replied PAT activists’ attacks with batons, stones and teargas.

City Police Officer Humayun Bashir Tarar, who was in command there, was grabbed by stick-wielding PAT workers and was being dragged when his guards rushed to rescue. They took him inside the airport building and sat him in the Chief Security Officer’s room.

In the see-saw battle on the road in front of the airport, policemen in riot gear chased the aggressive PAT activists who would take shelter in nearby CNG filling station and inhabited localities and re-emerge for battle.

At one point, they forced the police to retreat, which made the rangers take positions inside the airport to assist the Airport Security Force.

More than 100 people were injured in the clashes, including policemen, among them DSP Shoaib Aqueel.

A special branch official caught by the PAT activists was tortured and deprived of his wireless set.

PAT supporters, young and old and including women, some with their children, looked a determined lot. “We don’t care if police is there or rangers. We will be there (airport) at all cost,” Najeed Ahmad, who had come from Bhakkar to greet the PAT chief, told Dawn.

Over 27 policemen and one civilian were taken to the District Headquarters Hospital and three police officers and five civilians to the Benazir Bhutto Hospital.

Doctor at the DHQ hospital described the condition of Sub-Inspector Rab Nawaz and Constable Mohammad Nisar, who received head injuries, as “critical”.

Air passengers caught in the mayhem were stuck inside the airport or on the roads. They too suffered the effects of heavy teargas shelling and felt relieved on hearing that Dr Qadri’s flight had been diverted to Lahore.

Condition of a two-month old baby boy raised alarm when a teargas shell burst close to his passenger mother and she fell on the road while trying to enter the airport premises.

Luckily a ranger saw the mother and her baby tumble down and rushed to their rescue and took them to the airport dispensary.

“I was to travel for Karachi. But when I reached here after crossing several police barricades, I was not allowed to enter inside the airport,” said Ms Noor, the mother, sobbing.

Published in Dawn, June 24th , 2014

Comments (43) Closed

A Rehman Jun 24, 2014 11:04am

PML N should learn from Zardari and Rehman Malik, how to handle Qadri.

j singh Jun 24, 2014 11:08am

As a businessman from India. .it sends a very bad signal to the larger world and investors outside. .to make international airport scene of battleground. Everyone seems to be lookin for short term mileage forgetting what happens to the brand PAKISTAN.

Ahmed Jun 24, 2014 11:32am

Mr. Tahir ul Qadri...plz. answer these questions before asking innocent civilians to answer your call to will you bring revolution by flying business riding bullet proof just paying Rs.35,000 ($300) annual tax which equals to a monthly Canadian phone evading giving lucarative portfolios to your children in PAT and having questionable religious having self created religious hobnobbing with corrupt using religion for personal gains...leading not by example seems to be your still if you have courage to lead than atleast have spine to lead from the front and not from behind...plz. remember that playing with the lives of individuals is not a "game of thrones"... I rest my case...

Vince V James Jun 24, 2014 11:58am

@j singh

Yes, Emirates should take this guy to India the next time.

sabeeh omer Jun 24, 2014 12:00pm

Qadri has nuisance value. His only agenda is to create chaos and mayhem in Pakistan. He had done this drama once during Zardari's tenure and he has now come to Pakistan again to enact part two of it. Living in luxury in the west with a Canadian passport and traveling in business class he claims to be the voice of the down-trodden Pakistanis. And then look at his demands: He wants the army to escort him, he wants a bullet proof car and he wants complete media coverage. Who is he trying to fool? I pity his followers who cannot distinguish from a genuine religious scholar to one who has made a mockery out of religion.

sabeeh omer Jun 24, 2014 12:01pm


It could not have been better explained. I second every word of yours.

Imran Jun 24, 2014 12:05pm

Good. Now what?

Malikpur Janderbari Abbottabad Jun 24, 2014 12:14pm

@A Rehman : it was not their "kamal" Zardari govt was about to end and at that time situation was different. All Gen Musharraf allied was part of Zardar Govt. therefore no conspiracy. Now as this mulla was brought by agencies to put pressure on govt to release Musharraf but I am confident they fail.

Ahmed Jun 24, 2014 12:22pm

@sabeeh omer nailed it as well bro...

Pak Soul Jun 24, 2014 12:27pm

@Vince V James So true

Anarchist Jun 24, 2014 12:51pm

@Malikpur Janderbari Abbottabad You seem to have no capacity for independent thinking. PML-N's government cant do anything wrong, if one was to go by your narrative.

M.M.Sherazi Jun 24, 2014 01:17pm

The criteria definition of commenting has to be self-constrained by each individual. The involvement of agencies in such events should not be assumed as agencies are not intended to have such events planning, therefore minds-boggled about such motives of the agencies have to be crystalized by bearing in mind that our attitude has become so skeptic of dragging the agencies in every movement against the ruling parties, in the past or in the recent times.

Hussain Jun 24, 2014 01:38pm

@Ahmed is this Mr Shrif????

Hussain Jun 24, 2014 01:38pm

@sabeeh omer and i guess you are a saint?

Faisal Jun 24, 2014 01:39pm

@Ahmed one answer as to how? you will soon see it with your eyes!

azharhashmi Jun 24, 2014 01:40pm

@sabeeh omer I also second this brilliant commets

Maryam Jun 24, 2014 01:51pm

Media gave too much importance to this cry baby.

zak Jun 24, 2014 01:52pm

@Ahmed Issue is changing the governance system in Pakistan not frivolous, petty, inconsequential discussion of canadian phone bills. Pl stay on the issue. The future of the country is being discussed.

Asif Naeem Bhatti Jun 24, 2014 02:18pm

People of Pakistan, you never stop amazing me. I feel sorry for you.

Akhter Jun 24, 2014 02:56pm

It is high time that the nation should unite iteself

Malikpur Janderbari Abbottabad Jun 24, 2014 03:32pm

@Anarchist : yes you are right "no independent thinking" because I live in street of Pakistan and practically face these problems created by Tahir ul Qadri and Imran Khan. Every human being can do wrong, nobody is "frishta" in this world but be practical and in the present situation in the country one cannot support such inqulab which is only focusing on Punjab especially Lahore. A common man on street understands the fight of these opportunists for Punjab......I don't advocate for PMLN but relatively they are better than PTI in KPK or PPP in Sindh..

ala Jun 24, 2014 03:42pm

Even as an Indian I am surprised at fellows like mr. Qudri gets so many followers even when he is living in some far off place

Hisham Jun 24, 2014 03:50pm

The trouble maker is in trouble now.

Hisham Jun 24, 2014 04:05pm

Electronic media has become a monster and one of the major source of instability in the country. Some serious legislation is urgently required to regulate it. Once upon a time license was required to drive a car or to posses a fire arm but now people hardly care about it. In the similar fashion the time is not too distant when people will start running News TV Channels without seeking license from the competent authority. Government must establish its writ firmly.

Ajamal Jun 24, 2014 04:13pm

Qadri has shown the ability to lay the trap and Sharifs are caught in that. This has happened repeatedly.

High Def Jun 24, 2014 04:35pm

For a moment let's say TQ gets the top most position for governing the country; has he provided solutions to the present problems? Every one knows the problems, what the common man wants is solutions.

High Def Jun 24, 2014 05:04pm

The whole world is watching the drama prizes to guess who are they laughing at. Is no one in Pakistan really worried about Pakistan or are just the vested interests now paramount

M M Ashraf Jun 24, 2014 05:05pm

@j singh bhai thanks for your concern. Wish the leaders of our nation had even 1 percent of concern u have shown..pakistan as a nation would not have stooped so low. .my heart has become extremely cold for my beloved country

sabeeh omer Jun 24, 2014 05:27pm


I never claimed I was a saint but this I can bet: "I'm no hypocrite like...."

Mubashir Jun 24, 2014 05:36pm

I am surprised that in such a critical time when army is engaged against militants the judiciry doen not take suo moto notice of this untimely show of Tahirul Qadri

Ahmad Jun 24, 2014 05:48pm

I hope every Pakistani has been enjoying the democracy, first by PPP and now by PML (N) and in KPK by PTI. I guess Benazir Bhutto was right that "Democracy is the best revenge" and all the civilian rulers have been talking this revenge from People of Pakistan.

Ganga Din Jun 24, 2014 07:15pm

Qadri is going to get the taste of all this so called mileage that you think he got. He is not going anywhere.

Ganga Din Jun 24, 2014 07:19pm

@Ahmad Bhuttos are not worth quoting.

anony Jun 24, 2014 07:39pm

I think somebody should lodge an FIR against this "Qadri sahab". He is openly talking about destabilizing the country.

Dr. Sehar Khan Jun 25, 2014 03:06am

Just paying Rs.35,000 ($300) annual tax which equals to a monthly Canadian phone bill ... and flying 1st class $27,000 air ticket... wow...What a leader!!!

Ishrat Jun 25, 2014 03:37am

TUQ got mileage from this episode ? What octane number he was using for this thing, 95 or 98 ? Let us see how far he goes, and how many assembly seats, he can convert it into.

Syed Ahmed Jun 25, 2014 03:43am

@Ahmed Put some incriminating questions to Nawaz Sharif, his brother and the family cabinet you pay Rs 5000 as annual income tax and own hundreds of acres Raiwind estate where each and every corner is under surveillance, ever his guava farm.

Tariq K Sami Jun 25, 2014 04:11am

Police is the militant wing of the Fascists.

Shahid Khan Jun 25, 2014 05:43am

How abnormal this thinking is?? Forget "political mileage" idea of who benefited or not? Pakistan is overall losing big time as a country and as a nation. We should start thinking about the bigger question if we will even survive as a Nation??

Zainab Jun 25, 2014 05:50am

@Ahmed Very well said. One wonders why the media are not asking him these questions ! Living in Canada and coming to Pakistan just to get innocent people killed is not the Islam that I practice.

Malikpur Janderbari Abbottabad Jun 25, 2014 12:49pm

How you can expect inqulab from a person who is travelling on Canadian passport? a person who do not respect the existence of a country he came to bring inqulab there? what a joke and people are discussing his inqulabi points and media is blindly supporting him, what a nation!.

Azmeen Jun 26, 2014 07:17am

Pakistan's electronic media provided undue coverage of Qadri's return journey that helped him getting more political mileage.

Syed (Australia) Jun 26, 2014 07:55pm

At least a credit goes to Maulana Qadree that has gained politically by creating a situation where the most powerful government has knelt down. He kept the media for almost 8 hours covering his point of view. The other credit I will give to Maulana is that he educated the people of Pakistan what is their constitutional rights. From the day one and even before the election he predicted that the incoming government will not be a fair one, which people are seeing now so at least we should appreciate his wisdom for the judgement he made even before the election. The most and the last is that he is telling the people the truth about the government, so now it