Activist Gulalai Ismail released on bail after brief detention by FIA


ISLAMABAD: Pashtun human rights activist and founder of Seeds of Peace network Gulalai Ismail, who is an active member of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), was released on bail on Friday evening after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested her from the Islamabad airport on her return from London and detained her briefly at their headquarters.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, Awami Workers Party (AWP) leader Ismat Raza Shahjahan said that while Gulalai has been released, her travel documents have been kept by FIA and her name is still on the Exit Control List (ECL).

“She has been released on bail but we shall file a pre-arrest bail application on Saturday,” she said.

Ismat claimed that Ismail’s arrest had been made in connection with a PTM jalsa that took place in Swabi in August.

“Nine other people who helped organise the event are in jail in Swabi. Gulalai’s case was highlighted because she was arrested from Islamabad,” she said, adding that she was taken to the FIA headquarters, and is now on her way to Swabi with her family.

International human rights watchdog Amnesty International had also called for Ismail’s immediate release from FIA custody.

Earlier, Gulalai claimed in an audio statement that she was arrested for “raising a voice for civic rights and peacebuilding” and “participating in a PTM jalsa in Swabi”.

In September, Ismail had claimed that Swabi Police raided her home in an attempt to arrest her for organising and speaking at the PTM jalsa in Swabi on August 12.

She had alleged that an FIR had been registered against her, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad, Liaqat Yousafzai, Colonel (r) Hidayat, Faiz Muhammad Kaka, Riaz Shah Mansoor, Mohammad Ali, Khairul Ameen, Abid, Dr Jaseem, Comrade Yar, Manzoor Pashteen, Dr Said Alam, Advocate Fazal, Mohsin Dawar, Ali Wazir, Samad Khan/Muhammad Khan, Noorul Islam, and Khan Zaman Kakar.

In 2017, the Pashtun rights activist was awarded the Reach all Women in War Anna Politovskaya Award.

Ismail co-founded a non-governmental organisation, Aware Girls, with her sister Saba Ismail in 2002. Aware Girls aims to “strengthen the leadership skills of young people, especially among women, by enabling them to act as agents of change for peacebuilding and women empowerment, and to fight for their rights”.