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Antigovernment Cleric Returns To Pakistan, As Supporters Clash With Police

Tahir-ul Qadri flashes victory signs during a protest rally in Islamabad in January 2013.
Police in Pakistan have clashed with supporters of a prominent Canada-based cleric at Islamabad's international airport ahead of his return to lead what he has called an antigovernment "revolution."

Police fired tear gas and fought running battles with some 2,000 supporters of Tahir-ul Qadri.

Reports say the plane carrying Qadri circled above the airport for hours before it was finally diverted to Lahore.

Qadri's arrival comes a week after eight people were killed when his followers clashed with police in the eastern city of Lahore.

In remarks issued ahead of his return, Qadri -- who champions religious tolerance and once issued a fatwa against the Taliban -- said he was ready to lead a "revolution" against the government and praised the army.

Qadri's sudden ascent to prominence has prompted speculation that he is being supported by the country's powerful military to keep civilian authorities in check.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP