Tahir-ul-Qadri

Tahir-ul-Qadri. Pic: AP.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani official says the government diverted a plane carrying an anti-government cleric out of security concerns.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, Abdi Qaimkhani, said the Emirates plane carrying Tahir-ul-Qadri was diverted Monday morning from Islamabad to Lahore where it sat for hours while authorities tried to convince Qadri to get off the plane.

Qadri is a Pakistani cleric who lives mostly in Canada. He said he was coming back to Pakistan to lead a protest movement against the current government.

Last year he led a rally in the capital that closed down the center of Islamabad for days.

Qadri on Twitter accused the government of hijacking the plane but later said he had accepted an offer to leave the plane with a security escort.