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Pakistan Grants Bail To Father Of Self-Exiled Rights Activist

Pakistani activist Gulalai Ismail
Pakistani activist Gulalai Ismail

A Pakistani court has granted bail to the father of exiled human rights activist Gulalai Ismail, more than two months after he was arrested for supporting a movement that campaigns for the rights of ethnic Pashtuns, his daughter and his lawyer said on April 12.

Muhammad Ismail is a professor who, along with his wife, has repeatedly accused the police and intelligence officials of harassment.

His daughter, Gulalai, fled to the United States last year to avoid harassment by security agencies. She was later granted asylum in the United States.

She has been a supporter of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), which has campaigned since 2018 for the civil rights of Pakistan’s estimated 35 million ethnic Pashtuns.

Many Pashtuns live near the border of Afghanistan where the military has conducted campaigns it says defeated the Pakistani Taliban.

The movement has attracted tens of thousands of people to public rallies in recent years to denounce the powerful Pakistani Army's heavy-handed tactics that have killed thousands of Pashtun civilians and forced millions more to abandon their homes since 2003.

“My father has been granted bail by the High Court today,” Ismail wrote on Twitter on April 12.

She added: “He spent more than two months behind bars. It was a hard time for our family. I thank everyone who supported us during this period and raised their voice against the incarceration of my father.”

Lawyer Fazal Elahi said he was preparing the papers for Ismail's release from jail. Human rights groups have accused Pakistani authorities of cracking down on PTM members and supporters.

Ismail, 33, faces allegations of committing "anti-state activities" in Pakistan stemming from her participation in a rally organized by the PTM in August 2018.

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