US, Amnesty call for release of Ismail, father of activist Gulalai who fled Pakistan
The United states and Amnesty International have called upon the Pakistan government to release Mohammad Ismail, the father of a prominent Pakistani human rights activist who is in exile, after he was remanded to police custody in a sedition and terror financing case.
On Thursday, the US State Department and human rights NGO Amnesty International sought the release of professor Ismail after his daughter Gulalai Ismail, who fled to the US from Pakistan in 2019, expressed fears over his life and highlighted the targeted harassment of her family.
In a tweet, the activist said: “CTD-Police Peshawar raided our village home in Swabi Marghuz, they had brought my father as well. They had brought fabricated papers/receipts with them which they implanted in the files of our home. They snatched the phones from everyone before search.”
While the State Department said it is monitoring allegations of harassment against the Ismail family, and urged Pakistan to uphold due process and the rule of law, Amnesty called for all charges against Ismail to be dropped unconditionally.
“We are concerned by reports that authorities have again arrested Professor Muhammad 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 US State department said.
Mohammad Ismail, 66, is a retired professor of Urdu, who is also a social activist and a member of Pakistan NGOs Forum. His daughter Gulalai is a noted social activist who became a state target after she prepared a report on women who had allegedly been victims of sexual abuse during a Pakistan Army crackdown near the border with Afghanistan.
She had six cases registered against her in Pakistan’s courts for “anti-state activities”, and was banned from leaving the country. However, she fled to the US in 2019 after months of hiding.
Following Gulalai’s escape, her parents have been on a state list for alleged terror financing activities. In July 2019, her parents were booked in a case under the anti-terrorism laws of Pakistan, accused of taking money from India for distribution among terrorist organisations in Pakistan. However, a year later, the case was dismissed by a Peshawar anti-terrorism court judge over lack of evidence.
On 24 October 2019, the professor was also abducted by a group of unidentified men as he was leaving the Peshawar High Court after a hearing. The men were later identified as members of the Federal Investigation Agency’s Cyber Crime Wing in Peshawar.