The Government had originally planned to let Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri arrive at Islamabad and then board him in another flight or helicopter towards his headquarters at Lahore. PMLN simply could not trust Qadri and let him enter Islamabad, as his “peaceful” march in January 2013 held the city hostage for a week and also threatened to take over the parliament.
The government had prepared for the usual stuff like imposition of section 144, road blockage through containers and having additional police force from provinces. The main plan was to prevent any security breach on the strategic asset “Islamabad Airport”, as the recent Karachi airport indent brought embarrassment to the country at global level. In addition to protection of Islamabad Airport, Qadri had also threatened to take over the Prime Minster house if his workers were hurt.
By the time Qadri’s flight was near Islamabad, the “peaceful” minhajians had broken the police barricades and reached the airport. The remaining batch of these “peaceful” mob reached airport on their vehicles following motorcade of Chaudhry Pervez Ellahi after torturing and giving multiple fractures to 100+ policemen.
This was a critical time as the news of landing could have excited the mob to run over the few hundred security officials at the airport as per their plan. Just few thousand minhajians equipped with sticks could have overpowered the few hundred airport security staff and entered runway once Qadri had landed. This would have been second breach of an international airport in Pakistan within a gap of just 2 weeks.
At that time, the main option for government would have been to call army to seal or clear the airport/runway from minhajians. Qadri’s would have succeeded in his plan of bringing army to receive and protect him at the airport. It is not known if some commander from Rawalpindi was already part of this plan or not.
The other option for government would have been to restrain the minhajians through force, which could have caused casualties and ultimately given massive political ammunition to Qadri to launch his “revolution”, the kind of revolution that always ends with army takeover in Muslim countries. As per earlier threat of Qadri, he would have marched to Prime Minster house with dead bodies and it might have required army’s intervention to secure the PM house, which isn’t a pleasant experience in Pakistani political history.
By diverting the flight at last minute to Lahore, the government secured their assets and automatically dispersed the mob at Islamabad rather peacefully.
The government also succeed in limiting the number of people to receive Qadri at Lahore airport, despite Qadri waiting for 5 hours in the Emirates plane in attempt for a Benazir or Nawaz Sharif sized crowed to gather for his “historic” reception.
At the end, the Qadri was able to just secure the ride from airport to hospital with Governor Sarwar and government successfully thwarted his adventure attempt at relatively low cost of diverting an international airliner to another city.
This event also exposed the minhajians as mobster who violently attacked and critically injured hundreds of security officials and their leader held an international flight hostage for more than 5 hours.
This episode made Gullu Butt look like a Gentleman, who only attacked property, not humans.