Father of Pakistani activist who fled to US bailed


His daughter, 32-year-old Gulalai Ismail, is a prominent member of a group campaigning for the rights of the ethnic Pashtun minority, and is a vocal critic of Pakistan's military. She went into hiding earlier this year and surfaced in the US in September (REUTERS/Ian Langsdon/Pool/File Photo).
His daughter, 32-year-old Gulalai Ismail, is a prominent member of a group campaigning for the rights of the ethnic Pashtun minority, and is a vocal critic of Pakistan's military. She went into hiding earlier this year and surfaced in the US in September (REUTERS/Ian Langsdon/Pool/File Photo).

THE father of a prominent Pakistani activist who fled to the US was released on bail on Tuesday (26), his family and lawyers said, a month after he was arrested for allegedly spreading hate of the state on social media.

Muhammad Ismail was detained on October 24 after leaving a court in the northwestern city of Peshawar. He is accused of uploading material to his Facebook page “prejudicial to the interests of the State institutions”, according to a court document.

His daughter, 32-year-old Gulalai Ismail, is a prominent member of a group campaigning for the rights of the ethnic Pashtun minority, and is a vocal critic of Pakistan’s military. She went into hiding earlier this year and surfaced in the US in September.

Ismail was freed after posting bail of $645, according to a court document.

He was not reachable for comment on Tuesday, but has previously denied the allegations and said during his bail hearing on Monday (25) he had been trapped by a “well-planned conspiracy”, without elaborating further.

His daughter said in a tweet on Tuesday she would not give up her activism despite the arrest.

“(If) the purpose is to coerce me into silence then it won’t happen. Neither I would, nor my parents will let me,” she said.

A top US government official had previously expressed concern about harassment faced by Ismail’s family from unknown parties, and rights group Amnesty International has called the charges against her father “trumped up”.

“While we welcome this news, all charges against him must be dropped and his release should be unconditional,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

Gulalai Ismail’s group, the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), has clashed with the military, which has accused it of disloyalty and being funded by Pakistan’s regional rivals Afghanistan and India.

The PTM has gained considerable support to the alarm of the military, which is wary of Pashtun nationalism in the strategically sensitive Pashtun lands along the Afghan border.

(Reuters)