Peshawar ATC acquits activist Gulalai Ismail’s parents in sedition case

Published February 15, 2023
The photo shows Gulalai Ismail’s parents at the Peshawar Anti-Terrorism Court on Wednesday. — Twitter/Khushal Khan
The photo shows Gulalai Ismail’s parents at the Peshawar Anti-Terrorism Court on Wednesday. — Twitter/Khushal Khan

An anti-terrorism court in Peshawar on Wednesday acquitted social activist Gulalai Ismail’s parents in a case registered by the counter-terrorism department on the charges of sedition, terror financing and facilitation.

Pronouncing the reserved verdict, ATC Judge Fazal Sattar declared that charges against Professor Mohammad Ismail and his wife could not be proven.

Talking to Dawn.com after the judgment was issued, Prof Ismail said that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had hired a senior lawyer to pursue the case.

The professor added that he and his spouse have recorded 167 appearances in the ATC since January 2021.

Separately, Gulalai tweeted that her parents were acquitted after more than three years of harassment and innumerable court appearances. “I am thankful to those who stood with us during this difficult time,” she said.

Commenting on the development, North Waziristan lawmaker Mohsin Dawar said that Gulalai’s parents had been “harassed and persecuted” for far too long.

“Their resolve remains unshaken,” he said and congratulated the activist.

Earlier, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor also said that she was closely following the verdict in the case.

The CTD had charged Gulalai and her parents in a first information report (FIR) registered on July 6, 2019. In July last year, ATC had declined to indict Gulalai and her parents on the basis of an interim challan (charge sheet) over the lack of evidence in the case.

It had declared that as no evidence was produced by the prosecution, the charge couldn’t be framed against the accused and they were discharged under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The CTD later submitted the complete charge sheet and produced more documents, claiming that the accused had provided weapons and a car to terrorists that were used in attacks on Peshawar’s All Saints Church in 2013 and Hayatabad’s Imamia Masjid in 2015.

The court then indicted Gulalai’s parents on multiple charges including sedition, waging war against the state, and facilitation of attacks on All Saints Church and Imamia Masjid on September 30, 2020. They had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were later facing trial.

Initially, CTD had registered an FIR under Section 11-N of the Anti-Terrorism Act wherein it had charged Gulalai Ismail and her parents of being sympathisers of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement. Subsequently, several other provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code and Anti-Terrorism Act were included in the FIR.

The complainant, CTD inspector Mohammad Ilyas, alleged that Gulalai Ismail was the chairperson of an organisation, Aware Girls, and under its cover, she had been working for anti-state elements besides financing terrorist organisations.

Gulalai Ismail had gone into hiding in May 2019 when a case was registered against her in Islamabad for allegedly defaming state institutions and inciting violence through a speech in a demonstration against the killing and sexual abuse of a minor girl. She surfaced in the US in Sept 2019.

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