Emirates flight carrying Pakistan political chief ordered to divert

Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek leader, was onboard EK612 which was originally travelling to Islamabad

Emirates Airline confirmed on Monday that its EK612 flight, which was carrying Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, an anti-government cleric from Pakistan, has landed in Lahore after being diverted from its original destination of Islamabad.

The Government of Dubai Media Office said Pakistan authorities had ordered the diversion.

"As of 1.45pm Dubai time, all passengers have disembarked and are safe," said an Emirates spokesman. "We apologise for the inconvenience caused."

Qadri, the chief of political party Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) was scheduled to arrive on Monday morning at Islamabad airport from London.

The authorities, however, diverted the Emirates plane carrying him and about 200 other passengers to Lahore airport fearing that he may lead an anti-government rally in the national capital.

A Pakistani official told local media that the government diverted the plane carrying Qadri due to security concerns.

Dubai Media Office confirmed that the carrier had "taken all necessary measures to ensure alternative arrangements for the passengers, to get them to their destination", adding that the safety of passengers and the crew is a top priority for the carrier at all times.

Qadri is a renowned Pakistani religious scholar who shot to fame after he penned down a 600-page fatwa against terrorism.

He made headlines last year when he led mass rallies in the run up to May 11 general elections, demanding electoral reforms.

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