NEW YORK – Gulalai Ismail, a prominent Pakistani women activist accused of treason for her alleged anti-state activities, has escaped to the US where she has applied for political asylum, according to a media report.
The 32-year-old activist, whose name was recommended to be put on the Exit Control List by the Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for her anti-state activities abroad, escaped Pakistan last month and is currently residing with her sister in Brooklyn, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Ismail, who remained fugitive since late May this year, has not disclosed how she managed to leave the country.
I didn’t fly out of any airport. I can’t tell you any more. My exit story will put many lives at risk, the report quoted her as saying during an interview.
In November last year, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) was informed that the ISI had recommended putting Ismail’s name on the ECL for her alleged anti-state activities abroad.
Following a petition by Ismail challenging the government’s decision to put her name on the ECL, the IHC ordered the removal of her name from the no fly list.
The court, however, had allowed the interior ministry to take appropriate action, including confiscation of her passport, in the light of recommendations made by ISI, the report said.
Ismail is worried about her parents in Islamabad “who face charges of financing terrorism and remain under heavy surveillance”.
She has reportedly met with various “human rights defenders” in the US and staffs of congressional leaders and garnered support for herself.
“I will do everything I can to support Gulalai’s asylum request, Senator Charles Schumer, a member of the Democrat Party in New York, said.
“It is clear that her life would be in danger if she were to return to Pakistan.
Ismail has launched a research and advocacy group called Voices for Peace and Democracy aimed at protecting women in the conflict-hit zones of the world.