LAHORE - Flying from Canada in the second leg of his journey to Islamabad, Dr Qadri arrived in Dubai on Sunday night. After two hours’ stay, the flight carrying the PAT chief and his more than four-dozen supporters left for Islamabad, where it reached at the scheduled time of 7:35am.
But the flight was not allowed to land and diverted to Lahore on the plea of security, and law and order after the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) activists stormed Islamabad airport. After taking eight rounds over the Airport, the Emirates plane was forced to head for Lahore, where it landed at 9:40am.
Highly enraged over this diversion to Lahore, Dr Tahirul Qadri refused to come out of the plane and stayed inside for six hours. During that period, a number of attempts were made by the political, police and administrative persons to persuade him to come down but he refused expressing serious threats to his life at the hand of the federal and Punjab rulers.
During the meeting with Punjab Law Minister Rana Mashood Ahmad, four MQM legislators, Additional IG of anti-terrorist force and SP Cantt, he in the first instance demanded for his return to Islamabad where thousands of PAT and Minhaj workers were waiting to receive him; and if that was not possible, he sought meeting with military high command or Lahore corps commander to safely lead him to the Minhaj Secretariat, which also houses his residence.
He said given the situation, he only trusted the army as he believed terrorists in police uniform are posted outside the airport to take his life. Chaudhry brothers also contacted Dr Qadri on phone and offered him their bullet-proof car for travel to Minhaj Secretariat while supporting his stand.
When in the plane, Mr Qadri had also demanded that cases against PAT workers be taken back, missing persons should be released and Minhajul Quran Secretariat should be restored to the pre-June 17 status with barriers in place.
This situation entailed a deadlock which protracted to an extent that even alarmed the Emirates airline authorities which signaled to move with a complaint of the hijacking of its plane. Reports say that Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad also intervened as he phoned Qadri and urged him to disembark. Dr Ishrat informed him what impression the situation is conveying to the international community.
Finally, it was Punjab Governor Ch Muhammad Sarwar who taking advantage of his old cordial ties with Dr Qardi, met him in the plane and persuaded him to come down with accepting his conditions that he would travel in the private bullet proof car from right outside the aeroplane where his personal security guards will also be allowed to reach to escort him to outdoors. The governor also ensured Qadri to address his reservations.
Finally, Dr Sahib came out of the plane at 2:40pm where former Deputy Prime Minister Ch Pervez Elahi also met with him and joined his cavalcade. They left the airport at 3:40pm straightway for Jinnah Hospital to enquire after the injured of the Minjhaj tragedy of Tuesday last. A small number of Qadri’s supporters were also present there. At the hospital, Qadri was taken to inside in bullet proof cover (shield) after alighting from the bulletproof car.
Before arrival of Qadri a highly tight security was maintained in and outside the hospital. Everyone entering the hospital was thoroughly scanned and bodily searched and every nook and corner of the premises was searched and made sure nothing is planted anywhere to cause untoward incident.
Dr Qadri went to each and every injured person of the Minhaj incident. After spending over an hour there, he drove to Minhaj Secretariat, where he was warmly received by a number of workers and supporters. It all ended up peacefully and no untoward incident took place anywhere.
Earlier, the PAT chief had refused to disembark, ignoring the inconvenience his stance could cause to over 200 other passengers aboard. He wanted to discuss his demands with the military authorities as he doesn’t trust the prime minister as well as the Punjab chief minister. (Subsequently, he branded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as Hitler and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif as Mussoline).
But when the military authorities did not respond and there was apprehension of the situation getting worse, the Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad took the mediation initiative. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the party of which Ebad is a nominee, is quite at good terms with Qadri and is an ally in his cause.
Ebad discussed the matter with the prime minister, who was in Lahore to personally monitor the situation and pass necessary orders. He also took up the matter with his Punjab counterpart and the interior minister. The Sindh governor also talked to the PAT chief, who was more concerned about his security. He told Dr Qadri that in the presence of an elected government the military authorities could not be expected to negotiate with him. This forced him to soften his stance.
Dr Ebad assured Dr Qadri that the security of his choice would not have been available to him if he had travelled by GT Road, according to his original plan. He assured him that the best possible security would be provided to him if he agrees to leave the plane. It was then that Dr Qadri said he would like to hold talks with Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar “as he’s my friend and brother”.
The Punjab governor sought permission from his leadership and then reached the airport. At the airport, Dr Qadri said he would not like to use the Punjab governor’s official car but would prefer the latter to use his. The governor agreed. Giving the rationale, Dr Qadri said if the rulers got him attacked by the terrorists, the governor would also be hit. Thereafter, Dr Qadri discussed the issue of the security barriers outside his residence and the release of the party workers. The governor assured him that he would get the needful done.