Activist’s name put on ECL on ISI’s suggestion, govt tells IHC

Published November 7, 2018
Pashtun women's rights activist Gulalai Ismail. ─ Photo courtesy RAW in War
Pashtun women's rights activist Gulalai Ismail. ─ Photo courtesy RAW in War

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

A deputy attorney general representing the federal government told the court that the spy agency recommended putting Ms Ismail’s name on the ECL for her alleged anti-state activities abroad.

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.

The judge remarked that this fact could be ascertained after examining the relevant record.

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.

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

The petition said that the FIA on Oct 12 detained her upon her return from the UK in connection with her alleged association with the Pakhtun Tahaffuz Move­ment and for allegedly “delivering anti-state speeches”.

The petitioner, however, claimed that she was a patriotic woman and never indulged in anti-state activities.

Ms Ismail said that the federal government placed her name on the ECL and the FIA confiscated her passport without giving her an opportunity to defend herself. She requested the court to order removal of her name from the ECL and direct the FIA to return her passport.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2018

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