NEW YORK: The 32-year-old activist did not exactly disclose how and when she left Pakistan, because her exit story could put many lives at risk. All she revealed was the fact that she did not use any airport to leave the country. Gulalai is currently residing with her sister in Brooklyn, New York.`
No Pakistani government officials were willing to make a public comment on the matter. Security officials said that they had suspected Ismail had left the country secretly.
Gulalai Ismail is the chairperson of non-governmental organisation “Aware Girls”. She has received national and international acclaim for her work for empowering women in Pakistan.
In November last year, the Islamabad High Court was informed that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had recommended putting Ismail’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL) for her alleged anti-state activities abroad.
Following a petition by Gulalai challenging the government’s decision to put her name on the ECL, the Islamabad High Court had ordered the removal of her name from the 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.
Post this verdict, Gulalai had remained underground since May. Pakistani security services were searching for her in every corner of the country, raiding her friends’ houses and closing in on her family.
According to the report by New York Times, Gulalai is still worried about her parents in Islamabad as they face charges of financing terrorism and remain under heavy surveillance.
In recent days, she has reportedly met with various human rights activists and staffs of congressional leaders in the US.
“I will do everything I can to support Gulalai’s asylum request,” said Senator Charles Schumer, a member of the Democrat Party in New York. “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. “She is also thinking of law school,” reported New York Times.