Pashtun rights activist Gulalai Ismail detained in Pakistan


Human rights advocates are expressing concern at the arrest of Pakistani campaigner Gulalai Ismail, who was detained at Islamabad Airport on her return from the UK.

Upon her arrival in Islamabad, she was informed that her name had been placed on the “Exit Control List”, which imposes a ban on her from traveling outside the country, Amnesty notes:

Over the past year, the authorities have banned peaceful rallies organized by the PTM and some of its leading members have been arbitrarily detained and prevented from traveling within the country. Some members have also faced a series of charges for alleged sedition and cybercrimes.

Hayat Preghal, a social media activist and supporter of the PTM, was released on bail on 3 October, after enduring more than two months in jail simply accused for social media posts that were deemed critical of the Pakistani authorities.

She has since been granted bail, according to reports.

Ismail is the co-founder and chairperson of Aware Girls, which aims to empower and educate young women on rights and leadership in Pakistan. The group challenges the culture of violence and oppression of women in north-west Pakistan’s rural Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. She also chairs the Seeds of Peace network, founded in 2010, which trains youth in human rights and political leadership, promotes women’s political participation, and encourages religious tolerance.

A recipient of the National Endowment for Democracy’s 2013 Democracy Award, the Fondation Chirac Peace Prize, the International Humanist of the Year Award, the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Democracy, and the Anna Politkovskaya Award, she is also a Board Member of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights and a member of the Asian Democracy Network.

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