Dozens of people were injured Monday as police fired tear gas shells and used batons in the Pakistani capital Islamabad to disperse hundreds of supporters of a Canada-based Pakistani preacher who is expected to return Monday and to lead an anti-government rally.
Tahirul Qadri has planned to lead a march towards Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, from Islamabad, after his arrival in Islamabad.
Thousands of Qadri's supporters have arrived in Islamabad from other cities to receive him at the Islamabad's airport.
Clashes erupted at several places as the police stopped Qadri' s supporters, some of them carrying sticks, from heading to the airport. The authorities have banned demonstrations in Islamabad and the nearby city of Rawalpindi over security concerns.
The Interior Ministry said nearly two dozens of police officers have been injured as demonstrators pelted stones at them near Rawalpindi's Benazir Bhutto International airport.
Qadri's Pakistani Awami Tehrik said many of its supporters have been arrested and injured in clashes with the police.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that no demonstrator will be allowed to enter the capital.
The authorities in Islamabad have blocked all main routes to the sensitive "Red Zone" with huge containers.
Information Minister Pervez Rashid has accused Qadri of weakening the government at a time when the security forces have launched a major offensive against the militant groups.
Nearly 10 of his supporters including two women were killed in clashes with police in Lahore last week after the police removed barriers from Qadri's office.
Qadri said he wants to lead a "peaceful" march from Islamabad to Lahore, saying he could divert his march towards the Prime Minister House if the police restored to violence against his supporters.
Officials said that thousands of policemen have been deployed in Islamabad to maintain peace. The authorities have also deployed paramilitary troops at some important locations in Islamabad.
People in Islamabad are facing a lot of problems in going to offices as the demonstrators have blocked the main road between the capital Islamabad and other cities.
Qadri, who also holds Canadian nationality, claimed that the government has failed to deliver anything to the people.