Pakistani human rights activist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gulalai Ismail has become the new face of hope for oppressed minorities in Pakistan. Gulalai Ismail, who had escaped authorities last month and reached the United States to seek political asylum, has been highlighting the atrocities faced by the minority communities of Pakistan on global platforms as well in the streets of New York. She along with Muhajirs, Pashtuns, Balochis, Sindhis, and other minorities protested outside the United Nations headquarters. The protestors voiced their concern when Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was addressing the General Assembly.
"Innocent Pashtuns were killed in Pakistan in the name of eradicating terrorism. Thousands of people are jailed in internment centres and torture cells of the Pakistani Army," said Ismail during the protest.
She has vehemently opposed human rights violations in Pakistan by their military. When Imran Khan was in a conversation with Josette Sheeran, president of Asia Society on peace and stability in South Asia, Gulalai Ismail requested people to ask Pakistan’s Prime Minister about the human rights situation in the country with hashtag #AsiaSocietyLive.
#AsiaSocietyLive when Pakistan will become a safe place for voices of dissent & stop using anti-terrorism laws to shut down voices of peacebuilders?I’m here in audience today to ask Imran khan when Pakistan will become a safe place for women like me,Malala,Sabeen & PTM activists.— Gulalai_Ismail (@Gulalai_Ismail) September 26, 2019
Gulalai said that Pakistan is becoming a state where institutes only speak the language of violence. “No matter if people are protesting for their right to life, speech or right to jobs they are faced with violence from state institutions,” she tweeted. Ismail has been demanding the Pakistani military to end their human rights violations, explicitly mentioning the dictatorship in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. "Our demand is to end the human rights violations by the Pakistani military immediately. They should release the people who are still locked up in torture cells,” said Gulalai Ismail.
"But we are accused of terrorism if we raise our voices against them. There's a dictatorship in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province by the Pakistani military establishment."
Ismail is also worried about her family back home and fears for the life of friends who helped her escape from Pakistan. Gulalai Ismail, the chairperson of Aware Girls, a non-governmental organisation, is a recipient of the International Humanist of the Year Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union. She co-founded the NGO Aware Girls in 2002 with her sister Saba Ismail.
Last November, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had recommended putting Gulalai Ismail’s name on Exit Control List (ECL). Later, the High Court ordered the removal of her name from the ECL after Ismail challenged the government’s decision. However, the court had allowed the government to take appropriate action including the confiscation of her passport.
(With inputs from ANI)