October 3rd, 2020
By Haider Kaleem
Human rights activist and Pashtun Tahuffaz Movement (PTM) leader Gulalai Ismail, in an exclusive interview with Voicepk.net has denied any charges of terrorism levied against her and her family. Her father Professor Ismail also gave his point of view have saying that the charges were unfounded and fabricated.
On 22 May 2019, police in Islamabad filed an First Information Report (FIR) against Gulalai Ismail, who was known to lead a campaign against extrajudicial killings in the country. In the FIR, Gulalai had been charged with a number of offences, including some under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
In the FIR, Gulalai had been charged with a number of offences, including some under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
“On April 29th, then DG ISPR Asif Ghafoor had announced that the time for PTM was over. Following that, there was a crackdown on PTM activists which started with me,” saif Gulalai in the interview. “It was possibly because of a demonstration that I organized after a 10 year old girl was raped and killed.”.
Gulalai said that the terrorism case against her parents too, was part of the state’s crackdown on PTM activists last year.
“It began with my two-minute speech at the demo in Islamabad,” she says. Ismail says she had come to the demonstration in a show of solidarity with protesters calling for the registration of a police case.
“In that speech I had spoken about sexual exploitation in a militarized society,” she specifies.
Ismail says her speech was widely shared on Twitter following which the authorities registered a terrorism case, adding that further two cases were registered on charges of sedition and defamation.
“A two-minute speech led to three cases against me.” After that, Ismail says the authorities launched a crackdown targeting her.
Later, she says, she came to know that she was put on a kill-list that was disclosed by the United Nations in a letter to Pakistan. Taliban spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan in his audio message also spoke of an assassination list given to him that had mostly people belonging to PTM on it, she says. “There were raids on my home as if I were a top terrorist,” she exclaims.
Meanwhile the cases against her parents were lodged in frustration and revenge after authorities failed to arrest her on cooked up charges.
“A terror financing case was registered against me and my parents on July 19, 2019,” she says. Ismail was accused of giving funds to her parents who transferred it to banned outfits. In July, 2020, the ATC refused to indict her parents on terror financing charges saying there was not enough evidence.
“The court discharged charges against me and my parents in the case.”
After the court discharged the case in July, another case of aiding terror attacks was fabricated against her family.
“I was accused of financing and buying weapons for banned terror outfits,” she says. Under the new FIR, the charge was that her parents aided terrorist attacks in 2013 on a church and also in 2015. She said that the ATC indicted her parents on September 30 on trumped up charges.
“All charges were unfounded; it is beyond comprehension how after eight years the authorities had figured out that me and my family were connected to terror outfits. Why were the cases not lodged sooner after the attacks,” she pointed out. “I am being targeted because I was one of the few Pashtun women raising voice for the rights of their community.”
Ismail claimed that the authorities wanted to minus the women involved in the peaceful human rights movement in the tribal areas because it would be easier to discredit such movements globally that have no women representation.
Talking about her return, Ismail said she would return once the situation in the country improved, adding that the country is passing through a difficult phase worse than military rule of Zia and Musharraf. She also deplored that her old parents have been placed on the exit control list.
She welcomed the formation of the opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement. She called upon opposition parties to raise their voice in parliament about suffering faced by human rights activists such as her. She said her parents had written letters to the Pakistan People’s Party about treatment meted out to them.
Ismail’s father Prof Ismail also denied charges against him saying the case was based on fabricated statements from operatives of banned outfits. He said the statements submitted as evidence in the court were concocted and in some instances people were coerced to say that Ismail’s family had connections to members of terrorist organizations. Prof Ismail said he and his wife had also been placed on the exit control list. “I had given in another concocted cyber crime case but now as a pressure tactic the authorities are pushing for cancellation of my bail,” Prof Ismail said.