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Rights activist Gulalai Ismail arrested from Islamabad

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Rights activist Gulalai Ismail was arrested by Islamabad police on Tuesday, her father, Professor Muhammad Ismail, told Dawn.com on Wednesday.

According to Professor Ismail, the activist was picked up from outside the National Press Club in Islamabad while she took part in a protest against the controversial death of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Arman Loni in Balochistan on Saturday.

Police initially shifted Gulalai to the G9 Women’s Police Station, Ismail told Dawn.com.

According to Gulalai’s father, his daughter was then shifted to an unknown location a few hours after the arrest.

“We are trying to trace her whereabouts but the police is not ready to share Gulalai’s location,” he said, adding that so far no First Information Report (FIR) of the arrest has been registered.

In October last year, Gulalai had been detained by airport officials in Islamabad following her return from London. She was later released on bail but her passport was withheld by airport officials.

The detention had been in connection with an FIR that Swabi police had registered on Aug 13, 2018 against 19 PTM leaders, including Gulalai, for their involvement in a public gathering in Swabi where PTM’s Manzoor Pashteen and Gulalai both addressed the crowd.

PTM is a rights-based alliance that, besides calling for the de-mining of the former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement in the latter, has insisted on an end to the practices of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and unlawful detentions, and for their practitioners to be held to account within a truth and reconciliation framework.

Gulalai, a Pashtun and women’s rights activist, was in 2017 awarded the ‘Reach all Women in War’ Anna Politovskaya Award.

She co-founded a non-governmental organisation, Aware Girls, with sister Saba Ismail in 2002. The organisation aims to strengthen the leadership skills of young people, especially women and girls, enabling them to act as agents of change for women empowerment and peace building.

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