An additional district and sessions court on Tuesday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Gulalai Ismail in a case pertaining to maligning of state institutions.
The court ordered that if the suspect does not appear before it on Oct 21, the process to declare her a proclaimed offender could be initiated.
Ismail, who was booked over seditious speeches in May, mysteriously escaped from Pakistan after her passport was confiscated and is currently seeking political asylum in the United States.
In an informal talk with the New York Times on Sept 20, the self-proclaimed human rights activist on the run refused to reveal how she got out of Pakistan without any passport and other valid travel documents.
“I didn’t fly out of any airport,” she said, adding: “I can’t tell you any more.”
In March this year, the Islamabad High Court (IHC), while hearing her petition, directed the interior ministry to remove her name from the Exit Control List (ECL).
The court, however, allowed the ministry to take appropriate action against her, including the confiscation of her passport, based on the recommendations by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
In November last year, the IHC was informed that the ISI recommended putting the rights activist’s name on the ECL for her anti-state activities and reported linkages with foreign spy agencies.
In her petition, she sought the retrieval of her passport and travel documents which the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had confiscated upon her arrival in Pakistan on Oct 12 when she was briefly detained at the Agency’s Islamabad office.
According to the petition, Ismail is the chairperson of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), “Aware Girls”, and has received national and international acclaim for her work on empowering Pakistani women.
The petition said that the FIA, on Oct 12, detained her when she returned from the UK in connection with her association with the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement and for “delivering anti-state speeches”.
Ismail argued in her petition that the federal government placed her name on the ECL and the FIA confiscated her passport without giving her an opportunity to defend herself.
She requested the court to order the removal of her name from the ECL and return her passport.
On Friday last, while Prime Minister Imran Khan was delivering his historic speech at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) highlighting the plights of Muslims around the globe and Kashmir issue, Ismail appeared outside the UN headquarters in New York holding placards and chanting anti-Pakistan slogans.
The protest received prominent coverage from Indian media which used it to back-up its malicious claims of human rights atrocities in Pakistan.