RAWALPINDI: Activist Gulalai Ismail, wanted by the Swabi police in two separate cases, was detained by officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on her return from the UK at the Islamabad International Airport on Friday. She was released later on after being taken to the FIA headquarters and questioned.
A senior FIA official said Ms Ismail was released because according to the agency’s rules, women cannot be detained between sunset and sunrise.
Ms Ismail, 32, is the founder of the organisation, Aware Girls, which works to empower and educate women and girls on rights and leadership in Pakistan.
Ms Ismail arrived on Qatar Airways flight QR-614 from London and was detained by the FIA during the immigration process when her name came up on the Exit Control List, on which it was put on the basis of a request by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police.
After the immigration process, the FIA moved her to its headquarters for questioning.
When asked, an official of the Swabi police told Dawn that Ms Ismail had been on the police wanted list as two cases were registered against her in 2018 on various charges, including blocking roads, and preventing law enforcement officials from performing their duty.
FIRs number 131, 2018 and 123-B, 2018 were registered against her and others with the Swabi police.
The police official said nine of the accused had already been arrested and that the police were making efforts to arrest the others, including Ms Ismail.
He added that copies of the cases registered against Gulalai Ismail had been provided to the concerned authorities to prevent her from travelling to and from Pakistan which led to her detention by the FIA at the Islamabad airport.
After she was released in the evening, District Police Officer Swabi Khalid Mamdani said he will follow the legal procedure to obtain Ms Ismail’s custody.
A senior official of the Swabi police told Dawn that the FIA cannot detain a woman after sunset and that she was also let go because there was no case against her with the FIA.
The human rights activist was therefore let go on a personal surety after 5pm. However, her passport was confiscated by the FIA.
Rule 13(xxi) of the FIA’s Standing Order No. 01/2018 says: “Women attending FIA investigation or enquiries shall not be called to Police Station or examined before sunrise or after sunset. When women are called they may be accompanied by their responsible male relatives.”