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Pakistani capital prepares for protest by thousands of followers of mysterious cleric

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    Pakistani Sunni Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, 61, center, leaves Lahore to lead an anti-government march to the capital Islamabd, Pakistan, Sunday, Jan 13, 2013 in Pakistan. After years in Canada, Qadri returned to Pakistan last month and gave a speech demanding that sweeping election reforms be implemented before elections expected to take place this spring. On Thursday, Pakistan's Minister of Interior Rehman Malik issued a strongly worded statement that Qadri would not be allowed to rally in Islamabad, warning that the Taliban might attack the event. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary) (The Associated Press)

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    A girl holds Pakistani flags during a rally lead by the Pakistani Sunni Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, unseen, as they march towards Islamabad, in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. After years in Canada, Qadri returned to Pakistan last month and gave a speech demanding that sweeping election reforms be implemented before elections expected to take place this spring. On Thursday, Pakistan's Minister of Interior Rehman Malik issued a strongly worded statement that Qadri would not be allowed to rally in Islamabad, warning that the Taliban might attack the event. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary) (The Associated Press)

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    Supporters of Pakistani Sunni Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, 61, march towards the capital Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Jan 13, 2013 in Pakistan. After years in Canada, Qadri returned to Pakistan last month and gave a speech demanding that sweeping election reforms be implemented before elections expected to take place this spring. On Thursday, Pakistan's Minister of Interior Rehman Malik issued a strongly worded statement that Qadri would not be allowed to rally in Islamabad, warning that the Taliban might attack the event. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary) (The Associated Press)

Pakistani officials are preparing for thousands of supporters of a fiery cleric calling for election reforms to descend on the country's capital.

Supporters of Tahir-ul-Qadri are expected to arrive in Islamabad on Monday.

Thousands of police have been deployed in the capital, and police in riot gear are manning the main roads and streets of Islamabad.

Authorities have used shipping containers to block off the part of the city where most government offices and embassies are located.

Qadri returned to Pakistan in December after living for years in Canada.

His calls for vague reforms ahead of elections this spring have galvanized many Pakistanis disenchanted with the political system.

But he's worried observers who fear the cleric is a front for the military to derail the democratic process.