Lahore: Canada-based cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, who spearheaded an agitation against the Nawaz Sharif government, was today declared a “proclaimed offender” along with his two sons by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court for failing to appear in a case of arson and vandalism here.
The anti-terrorism court of Lahore also issued non- bailable warrants against 64-year-old Qadri, his sons and two other leaders of the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) party.
The court gave the verdict in a case against PAT chief on charges of arson and vandalism during their protests in Lahore last year. PAT leaders Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, Raheeq Abbasi are also among those declared proclaimed offenders by the court for not appearing in the Model Town Lahore case despite court summons.
Fourteen people were killed and nearly 100 wounded in clashes between Qadri's supporters and police in Model Town in Sharif's home city over the removal of barriers from the cleric's residence and offices.
Qadri had launched an anti-government movement along with Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan last August to oust the Sharif government. Both of them held marathon sit-ins in Islamabad. Qadri wanted action against those responsible for the killing of his supporters, while Khan sought for audit of May, 2013 general elections won by Sharif.
Reacting strongly to the court's verdict, Qadri's spokesperson Raheeq Abbasi said: “Getting Qadri declared a proclaimed offender is the handy work of the Punjab government of Shahbaz Sharif”.
“Police had killed innocent people in Model Town and instead of initiating action against those responsible for that, our leader is being declared (a) proclaimed offender,” he said.
Qadri had left for Canada after ending his Islamabad sit-in last October. A deadly attack on an army-run school in Peshawar - in which 150 people mostly children were killed - forced Khan to end his protest in December.