US concerned at jailing of Pakistan activist’s father


The United States voiced concern on Thursday after a prominent activist said her ailing father had been thrown back into prison in what she saw as retribution for her outspokenness. Gulalai Ismail, who won international recognition for her campaigns for girls, said her father, was denied bail on charges she says are trumped up, AFP reports.

The US State Department on Thursday said it was “concerned” about the arrest of her father, retired professor Mohammed Ismail. “We are monitoring allegations of harassment against the Ismail family, and urge Pakistan to uphold citizens’ rights to peaceful assembly, expression, due process and the rule of law,” the State Department’s bureau in charge of human rights said on Twitter.

“Yesterday, CTD police raided our home in village Marghuz, Swabi and planted fake receipts/files in our home,” Gulalai tweeted (below). “They didn’t let anyone record the video. Here’s my mother’s statement with English subtitles.” (above).

Muhammad Ismail is himself a well known human rights defender in Pakistan, adds Front Line Defenders, and has been critical of human rights violations in the country, particularly the treatment of his daughter.

CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, said it is “extremely concerned about the detention and ill-treatment of Mohammed Ismail, a human rights defender and CIVICUS partner, and calls for his immediate release.”

“My dissident voice was categorized as ‘Objectionable,” he tweeted before his arrest. “Peshawar High Court warned me to avoid sharing ‘Objectionable’ Posts. Honoring the orders of the Court I hereby surrender my right to share my dissident voices on Social media, therefore Goodbye Facebook and Twitter.”

Gulalai Ismail (right), one of Pakistan’s boldest human rights defenders and a stalwart critic of Pakistan’s security services, succeeded in escaping an enormous dragnet and making it to the United States in 2019, deeply humiliating the authorities who had been persecuting her. Now Pakistan has taken aim at her parents, accusing them of terrorism, and throwing her father, Muhammad Ismail, who was recovering from Covid-19, into jail, Jeffrey Gettleman and 

Ms. Ismail made a name for herself by spotlighting the rampant abuse of women and girls in Pakistan, especially gang rapes perpetuated by government soldiers. She also joined the Pashtun Protection Movement, a human rights protest group known as the P.T.M., and whose rallies became the focus of a massive crackdown by the Pakistani security forces. …Ms. Ismail, who now lives in New York and has applied for political asylum in the United States, said the charges against her and her parents were “malicious and false.”

This is about setting a precedent,” she said. “If a woman raises her voice, the whole family will face consequences.”

“They just want to harass my family and to break their nerves,” said Gulalai. “To break their morale to set a precedent, that if any […] father lets his daughter speak her mind and use her freedom of expression, then the parents will also not meet a good fate.”

She tweeted to supporters to “join the Urgent Action of @amnestysasia by writing a letter to Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI demanding the release of my father and dropping all charges against him unconditionally.”

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, Gulalai is also a Board Member of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights and a member of the Asian Democracy Network.

by the State apparatus.


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