Gulalai Ismail, Feminist Hunted by Pakistan’s Authorities, Escapes to U.S.

After months on the run accused of treason, Ms. Ismail made it to New York. Human rights defenders say she is innocent. Senators are ready to help her.


Comments: 35

  1. ISI has eyes everywhere. They are well represented in NYC. They are not nice guys. I wish her the best of luck.

  2. @Donald It is up to The US Government and US Citizens to protect Ms. Ismail against the ISI by what ever means necessary. We can be not nice guys too.

  3. @Richard From Massachusetts I completely agree with you. It's foolish to be nice when there are people around you who are not. I feel pain for this lady but I don't pity her because she is courageous and only require bit of help and security from your country and countrymen. I hope your country will not let her down. Speaking about India, it seems that we also need to clean our house a bit so that people are not harmed because of their eating preferences or by what they wear. Though I would also like to admit that instances like these are not rampant but we need to stop it or it can turn nasty.

  4. @Richard From Massachusetts That will not happen unless she pays for her own security detail. I would suggest she move from her family residence and keep out of the limelight.

  5. Pakistan has become a pariah nation in the world. It is the epicenter of Terrorism and none other than the Pakistani Army is responsible for this mess. Democracy is a Sham there. The Army decides who the PM will be and which party will be allowed to win the elections. Pakistan's Army owns and runs more than 50% of the country's economy. Tragedy and the irony is that Pakistan's Army is both the Mafia and the Government holding the nation as a hostage. I hope that the Pakistanis who are not part of its Terrorist gangs can finally take over the control and put it on a civilized path and in harmony with its neighbors.

  6. Brilliant one paragraph analysis .

  7. Once again Pakistan chases out its best and brightest. Pakistan was founded on an exclusionary ideology, that the worst forms of Islam would be totally dominant, and there was no place for anyone who questioned it. You see the results today: almost all of the country's religious minorities have been ethnically cleansed, terrorist groups openly operate Mosques and madrassas, and anyone who challenges them, like Malala, is hounded into exile, if not just killed.

  8. Ms. Ismail is a true refugee who deserves asylum in the United States. Her case is easy. I wish her all the luck in the world.

  9. @SLO Grandma ...as opposed to all the other false refugees?

  10. @June Bug Delaney I wouldn't read too much intent behind the word "true". Rather, her status and struggles are well attested to. Even the Trump administration, which has been intentionally reducing the historical interpretation of who counts as a refugee, would have to concede that she is a "refugee", hence the word "true".

  11. I encourage my Kashmiri friends to read the woes of this woman. The Pakistani army has ruined Pakistan by being obsessed with Kashmir. Pakistan should rise up against their army. That is their only chance to go forward.

  12. @Sunil Kaul ...and then read the woes of Muslims from Godhra, some kid who got killed for eating beef and look out the window at the woes of their neighbor. India has lost that high horse it used to preach human rights from the day it elected the Modi government .. twice. I think it's high times India looks inwards for it's own genuine good. This path towards despotism does not serve anyone well.

  13. Glad she made it out ... and I wish for her safety & well-being. If feasible, maybe even a Netflix movie in due course about how she (and others) saved her life. The Pakistani establishment, the same one that shielded Osama Bin Laden (and his recently deceased son) & Ayman Zawahiri, is morally bankrupt. Yet, their PM will up the ante this coming week in the US on the many injustices they have suffered. Comical, and conniving.

  14. Not mentioned in the article is the regular occurrence of kidnapping of religious minority girls - Hindus and Christians - who are forcibly married and converted to Islam. A look at how steadily the number religious minorities has fallen in Pakistan since 1947 is enough to give you an idea of the state of human rights there.

  15. Any sensible person reading this article can realize the background of the author and from where it is coming: India. Sure, there have been misdoings by Pakistan army in the tribal area along the border with Afghanistan. But the war in tribal areas was tough and brutal. Militants, supported by India, mercilessly slaughtered the men of Pak army. In retaliation, the Army did whatever it could do with its limited resources to prevent the country from falling into the hands of terrorists. People like Gulalai are blaming army without acknowledging that the same terrorists if brought to power, will ban women rights. As the peace returns to the tribal areas, education and human rights situation will gradually improve. If Gulalai wants all terrorists to be freed from prisons then i am sorry to say that it will put the peace of tribal areas in jeopardy. Nonetheless, look at the comments of the author about the financial troubles of Pakistan. I will see when the same writer talks about rape victims in India, brutal killings of people over cows, and killings of 100 thousand innocent Kashmiris.

  16. @Ahmad If I understand this correctly, you say the army is better than the Islamist terrorists because the terrorists will take away existing women's rights. Because of that, and because of attacks from India, we should have sympathy for the Pakistani army. But why are women's rights so abysmal under army rule?

  17. @Ahmad Let's drop the geopolitical word salad and focus on the only thing that matters here, miss Ismail’s struggle against injustice. She is protesting rape and other atrocities committed by the army against civilians. Do we really need to discuss why the army got involved in those regions? It is true that almost all counter insurgency/terrorism efforts are marred by human rights abuses. As a matter of fact, terrorist try to incite a brutal response from authority as that in turn provides them more recruits for the cause. That said how is that miss Ismail’s problem? She is protesting injustice, if it doesn’t get pointed out then there are no limits to atrocities committed by the oppressors. India has had terrible record on human rights lately but what does that have to do with miss Ismail protesting sufferings in her community? Such responses as yours are either a result of misguided patriotism/pride or an attempt at muddying the waters. Either way such expression is quite regrettable. Hopefully miss Ismail will be able to continue her brave and noble work in some capacity helping her community from the US. Welcome miss Ismail.

  18. @Ahmad Imran Khan and you accuse India of turning Kashmir into prison, but Pakistan army has turned the every state in Pakistan into a prison and a torture camp. Read the following excerpt from an article in July's New York Times:"Pakistanis still live in deep fear of their own security services. The intensity of the pursuit reveals how domineering and perhaps unnerved the country’s security services — referred to as “The Establishment” — remain." This quote is not from a minority but a privileged Pakistani citizen on how feels about his country.

  19. The army is full of thugs but the Islamists would take power, or maybe be elected, if they were not suppressed by the military. This was the pattern in Egypt too. Women in these places suffer systematic oppression. Best wishes to Ms. Ismail and welcome to the USA.

  20. Your bravery is inspirational, Ms. Ismail. Cheers to you, and best of luck in America. Keep fighting the patriarchy. Pakistan is a failed state. All very sad.

  21. @Andrew Would you say the same to the 'blind cleric' who was accused [and convicted] of sedition in connection with the 'first' WTC bombing? She is THAT kind of person - just not old or blind or a cleric.

  22. Pakistan's military has ruined the country since 1958. It is an oppressive force. At the same time they are incompetent.When they take over they can't govern the country.Even in military conflicts with India they have performed badly totally deficient in strategic planning. Unless the military is pushed back from interference in the civilian affairs, the country will continue in downward spiral. One Gulalai escaped but thousands remain trapped in oppressive environment.

  23. Simply shameful! Several detractors of Pakistan have cited the extreme violence against women. As early as 1975, feminist author Susan Brownmiller had extensively reported based upon reports from Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy (D-Mass) the gruesome rapes committed by the Pakistani Army in Bangladesh. This is well detailed in Susan Brownmiller’s book: AGAINST OUR WILL: MEN, WOMEN AND RAPE, Simon & Shuster, NY, USA, 1975. It appears that Pakistani culture is mostly about suppressing dissent (freedom of expression) through rape of women. Silencing them to shame or killing them (model Qandeel Baloch) is an integral part of the culture. Thus when such a tribal culture claims human rights violations in Kashmir, someone like Gulalai has to deliver poetic justice.

  24. @Deb Chatterjee You are absolutely right. It is obvious women are second class citizens and subservient to men in virtually ALL cultures. Religion seems not as much the driving force rather I believe its the culture. South Asian (India, Pakistan) is no different. In India for a long time technology is utilized to determine if a pregnancy will come to term or terminated as soon as sex can be ascertained. India has by now the highest male to female ratio even higher than China after 1 child policy. Modi has gleefully made a selling point, suggested Indian males to take Kashmiri white women for wives after he removed Kashmir's special status. Pakistani society is quite liberal and accepting equal rights - just watch Pakistani TV. It demonstrates how advanced women are in relative freedom to do as they please. The problem are the Mullahs who are driven by the Saudi fed Wahhabi Extremism funded and exported to Pakistan by them. MBS recently admitted that that was done at the behest of Washington. While Wahhabism is responsible for a lot bloodshed and destruction in Pakistan, it is not the sole cause. The other is male dominated culture. Islam is clear about the rights of women. Believe it or not devout clerics are blind to what it preaches. Head scarfs,"hijabs" are not specified in the Quran. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_J5bDhMP9lQ Pakistan is not only guilty party here so is India that used to burn wives with husband when he died (Sati).

  25. Best wishes for Kashmir to emerge from this oppression. The anti-Indian bias in the way that story has been reported has been shameful.

  26. @Greg Are you sure you read the same story that everyone else commenting here did?

  27. Reality certainly includes imperfect establishments and imperfect cultural/political rebellionists. I am sure that I and an unusual human rights advocate have our disputations. Meanwhile, she has escaped repression, and that’s a praise be. Courage is rare and admirable.

  28. Orlando Letelier escaped Pinochet's murderous Chilean regime, only to be murdered on the streets of Washington by Chilean security agents. This woman is still in extreme danger.

  29. Welcome Gulalai to the US! Thinking of it, on Monday, comically the PM of Pakistan - Imran Khan, will shout at top of his lungs at UNGA the human rights abuses in Indian Kashmir that only he and his country know of and take very seriously. Even NYT will give him a platform to share his vitriol to the world. Never mind that no action has taken place on the identified perpetrators of 26/11 attacks in Mumbai 10 years ago.

  30. Hearty news in the era of doom and gloom! Hope US continues to be the beacon of hope and freedom. It's sad to know the death grip military has in Pakistan on the media, politicians and the public. Jim Mattis' enduring observation about Pak deserves a mention here, that 'its leaders were born without any love for their country'. There is a total silence in Pakistan about this issue and in fact they are trying to spin it hard that it was somehow managed by other countries. The military there has done great disservice not only to its own birthplace but to the entire world. How much energy globally has been spent on fighting terror that originated because of ISI. Still its leader never tire of claiming innocence and being on the right side of humanity while being duplicitous of the worst order.

  31. Welcome to India ,Ms.Gulali as your second home.

  32. @Arvind Kumar PS: Just don't get caught eating beef.

  33. I know Ms Gulalai for the last 8 years. She has actively fought for women rights in Pakistan for which she was given several awards by the government of Pakistan and was encouraged to continue her work. However, the day Pak Army and government stopped all direct foreign fundings to NGOs, working in Pakistan, she has started speaking against the government and state institutions. The government believes that the foreign shouldn’t come direct to NGOs as it may be used in anti state activities, therefore, it was decided that funding should come to the country through Interior ministry of Pakistan after that it can be used by the concern NGOs. However, Gulalai and other NGO owners were not ready to accept this and started speaking against the state and its institutions especially the Pakistan military. Her association with the Pakhtun Rights Movement (PTM) was also not approved by the PTM activists and she was accused of being the ISI agent and have joined the PTM to make the movement controversial.

  34. Thank God for America, would this young woman even think about seeking sanctuary in any Muslim country?

  35. If a foreign person is being sought after at another country, we give refuge If a US Citizen is sought after outside the US, we demand extradition. Well, aren’t we a bunch of hypocrites.