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Gulalai Ismail: Patriot or a traitor?


News Desk |

The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday informed the Islamabad High Court that the name of human rights activist Gulalai Ismail had been placed on the Exit Control List on the recommendation of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The court was hearing a petition filed by Ms Ismail seeking removal of her name from the ECL. During the hearing, Ms Ismail’s counsel argued that even though she was not named in the first information report (FIR) registered against some other Pakhtun activists she was apprehended upon her arrival from the United Kingdom.

In her petition, Ms Ismail sought retrieval of her passport and travel documents which the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had confiscated upon her arrival in Pakistan on Oct 12 when she was also briefly detained at the FIA’s office in Sector G-13 of Islamabad.

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According to the petition, Ms Ismail is the chairperson of non-governmental organization “Aware Girls”. She has received national and international acclaim for her work for empowering women in Pakistan.

Ms. Gulali has been an active PTM supporter.  In August 2018, Ismail was arrested and charged in Swabi for “making anti-state comments and using the inflammatory language” following a protest organized by the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement.

In October 2018, Ismail was detained by airport officials in Islamabad and her passport held after attending a Humanists UK conference in the United Kingdom. After detention, she was released on interim bail and officials at Islamabad International Airport confirmed Ismail’s name was on the Exit Control List.

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Ms. Gulalai’s stance on military’s handling of FATA operations have irked many across Pakistan who consider her ‘not so patriotic’ despite her claims of she being one.

Supporters of Ms. Gulalai argue that she is being ‘harassed’ by intelligence agencies for simply ‘exposing’ military’s dirty role in FATA and other settled areas of Pakistan. However, neither Ms. Gulalai nor PTM leaders have provided any proofs of ‘missing persons’ and ‘unmarked graves’ in FATA.

Also, a vast majority of Pashtuns in FATA and KPK have rejected PTM and its leaders who are considered as ‘agents of enemy’.

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