Rights ac­tivist held briefly on her ar­rival from Bri­tain

Khaleej Times - - PAKISTAN -

is­lam­abad — A lead­ing Pak­istani women’s rights cam­paigner was de­tained for nearly nine hours af­ter land­ing in Is­lam­abad on Fri­day, ac­tivists said, spark­ing an out­cry amid fears the space for dis­sent is shrink­ing.

The Fed­eral In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (FIA) de­tained Gu­lalai Is­mail on her re­turn from the United King­dom, Is­mat Shah­ja­han, an­other ac­tivist who went to pick her up at Is­lam­abad’s air­port, told AFP.

The brief de­ten­tion caused a swift furore from other rights ac­tivists, in­clud­ing Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, which put out a state­ment de­mand­ing the re­lease of Is­mail, whose work on women’s rights has been recog­nised in­ter­na­tion­ally.

She was re­leased later early on Fri­day, Shah­ja­han said — but of­fi­cials kept her travel doc­u­ments.

“I kept on wait­ing just to make sure that she is not dis­ap­peared,” Shah­ja­han added.

Ear­lier, Is­mail had re­leased an au­dio mes­sage on her de­ten­tion which was ver­i­fied by AFP.

The rights ac­tivist said that she had been de­tained for speak­ing at a rally in Au­gust for the Pash­tun Pro­tec­tion Move­ment (PTM), a group call­ing for rights for the Pash­tun tribal pop­u­la­tion of Pak­istan’s restive north­west.

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