SEOUL, KOREA – Muhammad Ismail, a 65-year-old retired Professor of Urdu, was arrested on 3 February 2021 in his family home in the suburb of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Professor Ismail was arrested on charges of terrorism, sedition, and terrorism financing. We condemn this arrest and demand the immediate release of Professor Ismail as there is no clear basis to the terrorism claims.
The arrest of Professor Ismail is a direct retaliation by the authorities for the escape of his daughter, prominent human rights activist, Gulalai Ismail out of the country, whom the security forces have been pursuing since 2019. The detainment of Professor Ismail is a clear case of harassment by the authorities targeting his daughter.
His daughter Ismail Gulalai has been on the radar of the Pakistani authorities for her activism as a leading member of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), advocating for accountability and justice for the victims of Pakistan’s military and their rights abuses, specifically during its war against the Tehreeke-Taliban Pakistan, and its allies. PTM has documented numerous cases of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in the northwest of Pakistan. Furthermore, Gulalai is also known for her work in raising awareness on sexual abuse of women and girls in Pakistan by government soldiers.
The Asia Democracy Network urges for the immediate and unconditional release of Muhammad Ismail and the immediate halt of harassment of the Ismail family. These crackdowns of activists and the harassment of family members must stop and for Pakistan to uphold the rule of law, due process, freedom of expression, and the freedom to peaceful assembly. Pakistan Government and the authorities who conducted this this action should be made accountable.
Asia Democracy Network