On Friday 12th October, Gulalai Ismail was arrested in Islamabad. She was placed on Pakistan’s exit control list during a recent visit to the UK. She has since been released on bail, however her passport has been taken. On Thursday 25th October, Gulalai was granted bail by the Swabi Session court.
Gulalai is a champion of peaceful action and non-violence. With her sister Saba Ismail, she co-founded Aware Girls, our local partner organisation in Pakistan. Through their work, young people have been encouraged to promote tolerance and non-violence in their communities.
The seed of fighting injustice has grown throughout the lives of Gulalai and Saba. Gulalai is no longer detained and is out on bail, but she remains unable to travel. Despite the fear of rearrest, Saba says her sister’s detainment is not the end for either of them.
We are taking action to support Gulalai and raise awareness of her situation to ensure no further hindrance or interruption to her work. We are reaching out to those able to support Gulalai, including the Pakistani High Commission in the UK.
We support her right to travel and agree her passport should be returned. The following petition has been launched for Gulalai’s passport to be returned and for her name to be removed from the exit control list.
In an audio statement issued after her arrest, Gulalai called this a concerning example of “shrinking space of civil society and civil society voices.”
We underline the need to put all our efforts behind building and sustaining a diverse, engaged and open civil society, and protecting all human rights and efforts to build peace.
She has worked tirelessly in countering extremism, in preventing young people from joining militant organisations, for peacebuilding, for inclusion of women in peacebuilding and for women’s rights in Pakistan. We call on those able to take immediate action and support our friend and committed peacebuilder.