Rights activist held briefly on her arrival from Britain
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.