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Sunday, April 05, 2020

Pakistani woman activist stopped from leaving country for ‘anti-state activities’

When Jalila Haider asked Pakistani immigration authorities why she was being stopped from boarding the flight, she was told that her name was on the no-fly list because of her "anti-state activities".

By: PTI | Lahore | Published: January 20, 2020 3:58:16 pm
Haider is an advocate and the founder of We The Humans — a non-profit organisation which works to lift local communities by strengthening opportunities for vulnerable women and children. WikiMedia Commons

A top Pakistani woman lawyer and human rights activist, supporting the minority Hazara community in the country, was stopped from taking a flight to the UK and detained for hours by immigration authorities at the airport in Lahore Monday, citing her “anti-state activities”, according to a media report.

Jalila Haider, who was listed as one of the 100 most inspiring and influential women across the world by the BBC last year, was stopped by airport authorities when she was boarding a flight to the UK where she had to attend a conference on feminism organised by the University of Sussex, she told Dawn News.

When she asked why she was being stopped from boarding the flight, she was told that her name was on the no-fly list because of her “anti-state activities”.

Haider, who hails from Balochistan and belongs to the minority Hazara community, told the daily that she was detained by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for seven hours at the airport after which authorities returned her passport and told her that she can book another flight to the UK.

She added that she had not been involved in any “anti-state activity”.

Haider is an advocate and the founder of We The Humans — a non-profit organisation which works to lift local communities by strengthening opportunities for vulnerable women and children.

She is also vocal about the persecution of the minority Hazaras in the Muslim-majority country.

In 2018, she went on a hunger strike, demanding the state to address the violence against the people of the Hazara community, who she said faced persecution due to ethnicity and sectarianism.

Haider had demanded Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to visit Balochistan and console the thousands of widows and orphaned children left by the killing of Hazaras in Pakistan over the past two decades, the daily said.

News of her detention spread on social media after the activist posted on her Facebook page that she had been stopped at the Lahore airport. Her sister — who had come to see her off — and social media activists gathered at the airport, demanding Haider’s release and holding placards.

The lawyer said that only names of people who are suspected in a case and are named in a first information report can be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL). She further said that people whose names are placed on the ECL should be served with a show-cause notice, adding that she was not issued one.

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