Washington D.C.: The South Asians Against Terrorism and For Human Rights (SAATH) Forum expresses serious concerns over the continued harassment by Pakistani authorities of Professor Mohammad Ismail, the father of renowned exiled human rights activist and member SAATH Forum, Gulalai Ismail. His only “crime” – supporting his daughter’s human rights activism for the Pashtun community.

The Pakistani government has charged him under the draconian cyber-crime law, and had arrested him for the same previously. The courts had given him relief in this regard and granted him bail, owing to the frivolous nature of the charges but once again, the government is pursuing the courts to cancel his bail and imprison him. He was asked to present himself in the courts today for this regard. Fortunately enough, for now, the hearing has been delayed.

But it is still an extremely worrying situation for the civil society and Gulalai Ismail’s family, especially since Professor Ismail is 65+ years old and therefore is in the category of extremely vulnerable people to COVID-19 and not just because of his age but also owing to his underlying conditions including hypertension, heart and kidneys problem.

When in October 2019 Professor Ismail was jailed after being abducted by agencies in Pakistan and later reproduced in the court after international outcry, he was denied medical care in prison. And now summoning Professor Ismail to the court during this pandemic and asking for him to be sent to prison again is putting his life at risk intentionally and is in violation of his constitutional rights. Also, we have been informed by Professor Ismail’s family that his access to his financial resources have been blocked – allegedly at the orders of state agencies. This creates further stress on him as he is unable to provide for his family.

We urge the civil society and media in Pakistan to raise voice against this targeting of human rights activist in the country and demand that the Pakistani government drop all charges against Professor Ismail and his family members.