Gulalai Ismail's father sent on 14-day judicial remand

Updated October 25, 2019

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In September, the NYT reported that Gulalai escaped Pakistani authorities the previous month and had reached the US, where she applied for political asylum. — Reuters/File
In September, the NYT reported that Gulalai escaped Pakistani authorities the previous month and had reached the US, where she applied for political asylum. — Reuters/File

Rights activist Gulalai Ismail's father, Professor Muhammad Ismail, was sent to jail on 14-day judicial remand on Friday, a day after his daughter alleged that he had been picked up from outside the Peshawar High Court (PHC) by "men wearing Malitia (sic) dress".

Professor Ismail's lawyer, Fazal Khan, told DawnNewsTV that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Peshawar had arrested his client after registering a First Information Report (FIR) against him under the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) 2016.

Khan said that his client was produced before judicial magistrate Naveedullah today, where the court rejected FIA's request for physical remand and instead sent him on a 14-day judicial remand. He added that they would soon file a bail application.

The lawyer said that on Thursday his client was at the PHC for another case.

"At around 4:30pm he left the high court building and was picked up by some unknown men and shifted to [an] unknown location," Khan claimed.

Case registered

The FIR, a copy of which was seen by Dawn.com, was registered against Professor Ismail under Sections 10 and 11 of Peca 2016 read with Section 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code at FIA Cyber Crime Circle in Peshawar.

The case was registered after a complaint was received against Ismail by persons namely Sajid Iqbal, Ali Ahmad, Riazur Rehman and Walid Mir on October 8.

“The complaint is regarding ... hate speech and fake information against government institutions of Pakistan on Facebook and Twitter,” according to the FIR.

It said the professor's Facebook and Twitter IDs, passwords and a mobile phone were seized by the FIA.

US 'concerned'

Earlier on Friday, Gulalai via Twitter said she had received information that her father had been brought to the court premises.

On Friday morning, US Assistant Secretary of State Alice G. Wells, who is also the in-charge of South Asia affairs at the US State Department, had expressed concern over "reports of the continued harassment" of Gulalai's family and her father's detention.

"We encourage Pakistan to uphold citizens’ rights to peaceful assembly, expression, and due process," Wells said in a post shared on Twitter.

In September, the New York Times reported, Gulalai escaped Pakistani authorities the previous month and had reached the United States, where she applied for political asylum.

Read: Activist Gulalai Ismail 'escapes' to New York, applies for political asylum

Gulalai is an international award-winning activist and a prominent member of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) group who had been campaigning for the rights of women and the ethnic Pashtun minority.

She had not disclosed how she managed to leave the country. All she revealed was: "I didn’t fly out of any airport."

"I can’t tell you any more," NYT quoted her as saying during an interview. "My exit story will put many lives at risk."

According to NYT, no government officials were willing to make a public comment on the matter. Security officials had said that they had suspected Gulalai had left the country.