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Peace heroine is forced into hiding after raid on family; FEARS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST Parents held on terrorism charges.

Byline: | Billy Briggs

A human rights activist who helped the Sunday Mail investigate Islamist extremism in Pakistan is in hiding after her family was accused of working for terrorists.

Gulalai Ismail runs equality group Aware Girls and has won a number of international awards for her work in preventing extremism.

She has visited Scotland several times and spoken at the Scottish Parliament.

Her sister has told how Gulalai is hiding from authorities after their parents were arrested on terrorism charges on July 12. She has also been accused of being linked to a terror group.

Saba Ismail claims the allegations are false and are an attempt by the state - led by cricket legend Imran Khan - to silence claims that Pakistani soldiers have sexually assaulted women.

She said: "After the state failed to silence her through harassment, it booked her parents under terrorism charges, accusing Gulalai, her mother and her father of terrorism.

"Through charging her parents with terrorism, they are being punished for raising a brave daughter like Gulalai.

"It's a tactic to force Gulalai into silence."

Dad Muhammed is also a human rights activist while mum Uzlifat is a housewife.

Gulalai protested against the rape and murder of 10-year-old Farishta Mohmand, who was found dead five days after she went missing.

Police have been accused of not taking action for four days after she went missing.

Human Rights Watch says that Pakistan misuses counter-terrorism laws as an instrument of political coercion. Members of the US Congress have been asked to sign a letter organised by the Alliance for Peacebuilding to highlight Gulalai's case, ahead of Khan's visit to the US next week to meet President Donald Trump.

In 2015, Gulalai assisted the Sunday Mail in exposing Islamic schools linked to the Taliban.

Last year, Pakistan's government banned her from travelling abroad.

Bill Kidd MSP, of the SNP, said: "I'm shocked that Gulalai and her family are still being subjected to this type of immoral behaviour for speaking out in support of the kind of human rights which are accepted as standard across member states of the UN. We all accept that every society has its own rules and standards but everyday Pakistani-life can only be enhanced by the honest statements of Gulalai Ismail.

"I call on Prime Minister Imran Khan to intervene."

The Pakistan embassy in London did not respond to our request for comment.

CAPTION(S):

PROTEST Left, madrasa pupils. Above, Bill Kidd and Saba Ismail

SPEECH Gulalai Ismail in Edinburgh. Right, our story on madrasa link to Taliban Picture by Angela Catlin

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 21, 2019
Words:425
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