Gulalai Ismail’s father arrested by FIA for ‘spreading hate against state’

Prof Muhammad Ismail sent to jail on 14-day judicial remand

Reuters October 25, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said on Friday it had arrested the father of a political activist for spreading hate of the state on social media.

Professor Muhammad Ismail, father of pro-Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activist Gulalai Ismail, was detained on Thursday after leaving a court in Peshawar.

Gulalai, 32, a vocal critic of the government, went into hiding earlier this year and emerged in the United States in September.

“The complaint is regarding ... hate speech and fake information against government institutions on Facebook and Twitter,” the FIA said in a report.

Senior FIA official Mirwais Niaz said Muhammad Ismail had been brought before a court and remanded in custody for 14 days on Friday.

Earlier, before the authorities announced her father’s arrest, Gulalai said she was worried about his fate after he had been picked up by unidentified men on Thursday.

“He was abducted by men wearing militia black dress, he was forced into a black-tinted vehicle,” Ismail told Reuters in a text message. “We are very worried for our mother now and afraid that ... she will be arrested too,” she said.

The US State Department's Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs acting assistant secretary, Alice Wells, had earlier expressed her concern about the family.

“We are concerned by reports of the continued harassment of Gulalai Ismail's family, and her father’s detention,” Wells said on Twitter. “We encourage Pakistan to uphold citizens' rights to peaceful assembly, expression, and due process.”

‘Commentary unwarranted’

Meanwhile, Foreign Office spokesperson termed the reaction on the arrest “unwarranted”.

In a statement on Twitter, Dr Mohammad Faisal said the professor had been detained by law enforcement agencies in a case of cybercrime as per “our laws”.

“Being a citizen of Pakistan, Prof Ismail is entitled to due process and right of defence provided in the Constitution,” he said. “Any comment to the contrary, or a pre-judgment in the matter, is unwarranted.”


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