Pakistan's Gulalai Ismail delivers an acceptance speech after being awarded the Prize for Conflict Prevention for the work of her organization Aware Girls promoting women's issues and equality in Pakistan, during the award ceremony of the Jacques Ch
Pakistan's Gulalai Ismail delivers an acceptance speech after being awarded the Prize for Conflict Prevention for the work of her organization Aware Girls promoting women's issues and equality in Pakistan, during the award ceremony of the Jacques Ch

ISLAMABAD - Pakistani authorities detained and then released on bail a prominent human rights activist as she re-entered the country, although they withheld her passport, the activist said.

Gulalai Ismail said she was returning from London Friday when immigration authorities at an Islamabad airport told her she was on a no-fly list.

Talking to VOA's Deewa Service, Ismail said authorities could not explain to her which government department had put her name on the list, or why.

In August, police charged Ismail and 18 other people with making anti-state comments and using inflammatory language at a protest rally in Swabi, in Khyber Paktunkhwa province.

The rally was organized by the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, a party considered anti-military for its stance that Pakistan's military has used the fight against terrorism to carry out human rights abuses against Pashtuns in restive tribal areas and other parts of the country.

The military has been carrying out operations in those areas, often under international pressure, to clear them of militant groups.

PTM gained nationwide attention after the extra-judicial killing of a young Pashtun male model in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi. The suspect in the killing, police officer Rao Anwar, is out on bail. The case is still pending.

Ismail denied charges against her.

"This is not an attack on Gulalai Ismail or PTM. This is an attack on civic freedoms, this is an attack on our liberty to speak out, this is an attack on our freedom of speech," Ismail claimed in an audio statement she sent to a WhatsApp group.

Human rights activists who went to the offices of the Federal Investigation Agency, the government agency detaining Ismail, said they were allowed to communicate with Ismail.

"They were very cordial with us. I was pleasantly surprised," said one activist who did not want to be named.

PTM says it has challenged the police report in court and a hearing is scheduled for later this month.  

Ismail is a women's rights activist and runs a non-governmental organization called Aware Girls.