A Pakistani human rights activist who fled to America out of concerns for her own safety says her father was abducted Thursday outside of a courthouse in Peshawar.
The 32-year-old activist, who resurfaced in New York last month despite being placed under a travel ban, landed on the radar of authorities in Pakistan after speaking out about alleged sexual abuses committed by the country’s military.
“My father shall be released immediately,” Ismail wrote in a Twitter post. “His health had deteriorated in [the] past four months and was receiving multiple treatments due to his health condition."
Mohammad Ismail, father of Pakistani human rights activist Gulalai Ismail, holds a picture of his daughter as he poses for a photo in his home in Islamabad, Pakistan, last Thursday. (AP)
“Arresting people without any charges or making false cases after the arrest is a violation of law,” she added.
Her father’s lawyer confirmed the abduction to the Associated Press, saying it happened following a hearing in a case related to the Aware Girls organization, which Gulalai founded.
On its website, the organization says it works “to empower young women, advocate for equal rights of young women, and to strengthen their capacity enabling them to act as agents of women empowerment and social change.”
Ismail’s parents, the AP says, have denied charges that they have been financing terrorism. They also are reported to be supporting a human rights movement that is critical of the Pakistani Army’s war on terrorism.
Pakistani dissident and feminist Gulalai Ismail poses during a photo session before an interview with the AFP in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)
Gulalai Ismail previously has said that the army operation to remove militants near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan has resulted in the sexual harassment of women.
"Dozens of women had come to tell us that the incident of sexual harassment was not unique,” Ismail had told the AFP. “It is systematic. It had been happening for years."
Ismail has been arrested in Pakistan three times since October 2018, according to the BBC. In her latest arrest, in May, she was charged with incitement of violence against state institutions after speaking at a protest following the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl, the Alliance for Peacebuilding says.
Mohammed previously told the BBC that there have been six cases filed against her in Pakistani courts and that she fled the country over concerns for her safety.
Gulalai Ismail is now living with her sister in New York and is pursuing political asylum, reports say.