10.17.2019

Gulalai Ismail: “People Would Give Me Death Threats”

Gulalai Ismail has been an advocate for human rights in Pakistan since she was 16 years old. For years, she has spoken out about abuses against women and girls, and last year, she began to advocate for victims of alleged sexual assault by Pakistan’s army – and for that, she has paid a very big price. She sits down with Michel Martin to discuss her experiences.

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THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE ARE IN PAKISTAN AS PART OF AN INITIAL TOUR OF THAT COUNTRY.

THE ROYAL COUPLE HAVE BEEN WOWING CROWDS WITH THEIR TRADITIONAL DRESS AS THEY ATTEND RECEPTIONS AND VISITS HOSPITALS AND SCHOOLS TO HIGHLIGHT THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION, ESPECIALLY FOR YOUNG GIRLS.

PAKISTAN IS MAKING PROGRESS ON EDUCATION, BUT IT'S A COUNTRY FACING SERIOUS CHALLENGES AND OUR NEXT GUEST KNOWS THAT ALL TOO WELL.

GULALAI ISMAIL HAS BEEN AN ADVOCATE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS SINCE SHE WAS 16 YEARS OLD.

FOR MANY YEARS NOW SHE'S BEEN SPEAKING OUT AGAINST ABUSES, ESPECIALLY TOWARD WOMEN AND GIRLS.

LAST YEAR SHE BEGAN TO ADVOCATE FOR VICTIMS OF ALLEGED SEXUAL ABUSE BY THE COUNTRY'S AERMY AN FOR THAT SHE'S PAID A HEAVY PRICE.

AS SHE EXPLAINED TO OUR MICHEL MARTIN, SHE FELT SHE HAD TO PLEA HER HOMELAND.

GULALAI ISMAIL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SPEAKING WITH US.

PLEASURE.

YOU'VE SAID A COUPLE OF TIMES THAT IN INTERVIEWS YOU DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE PAKISTAN.

I MEAN, THAT WAS NOT YOUR GOAL, THAT WAS NOT YOUR INTENTION.

ONE OF THE MANY REASONS THAT PEOPLE BECAME CONCERNED IS THAT A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO YOU DISAPPEARED AND NO ONE KNEW WHERE YOU WERE.

AND, YOU KNOW, HERE YOU ARE IN NEW YORK.

YOU'VE ASKED FOR POLITICAL ASYLUM.

WHAT HAPPENED THAT CAUSED YOU TO FEEL YOU HAD TO LEAVE?

SO, I HAD BEEN WORKING ON HUMAN RIGHTS FOR PAST 17 YEARS.

I STARTED WITH WORKING ON YOUNG WOMEN RIGHTS, CHAMPIONING THE CAUSE FOR GIRLS' EDUCATION, POLITICAL PARTICIPATION OF YOUNG WOMEN.

I WAS TRAINING YOUNG WOMEN TO TAKE ACTIVE PART IN ELECTIONS.

I WAS TRAINING YOUNG WOMEN TO BE ELECTION MONITORS AND I'M SO PROUD TO SAY THAT IN 2015 WHEN LOCAL ELECTIONS WERE HAPPENING, TEN YOUNG WOMEN WHO WERE TRAINED BY OUR ORGANIZATION, THEY WERE RUNNING FOR PUBLIC OFFICES.

SO THAT WAS THE KIND OF WORK THAT I WAS DOING.

IN 2009, IF -- I THINK THE WORLD WILL REMEMBER HOW MILITANCY BECAME A BIG PHENOMENON, RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM BECAME A BIG PHENOMENON IN PAKISTAN AND SOME AREAS OF PAKISTAN WERE TAKEN CONTROL BY TALIBAN AND THEY WERE RECRUITING PEOPLE IN MILITARY ORGANIZATIONS.

THAT WAS A POINT IN MY LIFE WHERE I DECIDED I NEED TO, YOU KNOW, WORK WITH YOUNG PEOPLE TO PRE PREVENT THEM FROM BEING RECRUIT IN MILITANT ORGANIZATIONS.

THEY DESERVE A HAPPY LIFE.

SO WE STARTED A YOUTH NETWORK.

SO YOU'RE EXPANDING YOUR WORK BEYOND YOUR ORIGINAL AND SPECIFIC FOCUS ON YOUNG WOMEN AND GIRLS.

DID YOU FEEL AT THE TIME SAFE, THOUGH -- EVEN THOUGH WHAT YOU WERE DOING WAS NOT UNIVERSALLY APPRECIATED OR APPLAUDED OR EVEN TAKEN SERIOUSLY.

WHEN WE WERE WORKING, WE WERE HAVING AN IMPACT BUT MOST OF THE PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY, THEY THOUGHT, OH, THEY ARE JUST YOUNG VICTIM WOMEN WHO ARE WESTERNIZED.

AS YOUNG WOMAN WE THOUGHT WE WOULD NEVER BE TARGETED BUT IT CHANGED IN 2013 WHEN FOR THE FIRST TIME OUR HOUSE WAS ATTACKED BY UNKNOWN GUNMEN.

THEY CAME AT OUR DOOR, KNOCKING AT OUR DOOR, THREATENING MY FAMILY THAT IF WE DIDN'T STOP WORKING, IF WE DIDN'T STOP WESTERNIZING OUR SOCIETY THAT WE SHALL REMAIN READ FOR CONSEQUENCES.

THAT WAS A TIME I KNEW, OH, OUR WORK IS ACTUALLY HAVING A HUGE IMPACT ON OUR SOCIETY AND THAT IS WHY SOME PEOPLE ARE FEELING SO THREATENED THAT THEY WANT TO SILENCE US AT ANY COST.

DID YOU HAVE A SENSE AT THE TIME OF WHO WAS OPPOSING YOU?

THE ATTACKS WERE ALWAYS BY UNKNOWN.

YOU KNOW, NO ONE EVER TOOK RESPONSIBILITY SO IT WAS REALLY DIFFICULT TO FIGURE OUT THAT WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ATTACKING US?

WHO ARE PEOPLE THAT DO NOT LIKE OUR WORK?

BUT THEN WE ALSO COME FROM A COUNTRY WHEN STATED AGAINST YOU, ESPECIALLY THE SECURITY DEFENSES OF THE COUNTRY DO NOT LIKE YOUR WORK, THEN YOU ARE OFTEN ATTACKED THROUGH UNKNOWN PEOPLE.

SO WE KNEW THAT WHEN UNKNOWN PEOPLE ATTACK YOU WITHOUT ANYONE TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR IT THEN THE CHANCES ARE THAT THE STATE SECURITY AGENCIES ARE BEHIND THE ATTACKS.

WHAT EXACTLY DID THEY THINK YOU WERE DOING THAT THEY WANTED YOU TO STOP?

IN MY CASE IT STARTED WITH A BLASPHEMY CASE ONLINE.

I WAS ACCUSED OF BLASPHEMY FOR BEING A WOMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST.

WHICH IS A CRIME IN PAKISTAN, RIGHT?

BLASPHEMY IS A CRIME, IS IT NOT?

BLASPHEMY IS A CRIME AND YOU CAN BE PUNISHED WITH DEATH SENTENCE.

AND NOT ONLY THAT, THE LAW WILL -- THE COURTS CAN GIVE YOU DEATH SENTENCE, BUT ALSO ONCE YOU'RE ACCUSED OF BLASPHEMY, PEOPLE CAN KILL YOU IN MOVE LYNCHING.

ONE DAY I WOKE UP, I WAS CHECKING MY SOCIAL MEDIA AND I SAW A VIDEO OUT THERE.

THERE WAS A YOUNG MAN WHO SAID MY WORK ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS IS ILL RELIGIOUS, IMMORAL, ANTI-ISLAM, I'M A TUMOR TO SOCIETY.

I NEED TO BE FINISHED.

HE THREATENED ME THAT HE WILL KILL ME AND HE ALSO ASKED OTHER PEOPLE TO KILL ME.

THAT CAMPAIGN WAS ON THE INTERNET FOR THREE MONTHS.

THERE WAS SO MUCH HATE AGAINST ME ON INTERNET.

PEOPLE WERE INCITING VIOLENCE.

SOME WOULD GIVE ME DEATH THREATS.

SOME WOULD GIVE ME RAPE THREATS.

SOME WOULD GIVE ME MOB LYNCHING THREATS.

PROTESTS WOULD START ON ME IN MY OWN CITY.

PEOPLE WOULD COME UP AND ASK TO BAN ME BECAUSE I'M ANTI-ISLAM, ANTI-CULTURE AND ANTI-STATE.

HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH THAT?

AT THAT TIME I DID NOT WANT -- I WANTED TO STAND ON MY GROUND, SO I DECIDED THAT I WILL USE STATE TO GET PROTECTION OF MYSELF.

SO I WENT TO POLICE.

YOU KNOW, AT THAT TIME POLICE TOOK MY COMPLAINT SERIOUSLY.

THE VIDEO WAS TAKEN OFF THE INTERNET BECAUSE THE VIDEO WAS VERY DANGEROUS AND A YOUNG MAN WHO WAS LEADING THE CAMPAIGN, HIS BAIL WAS CANCELLED AND HE WAS SENT TO JAIL FOR ONE WEEK, FOR AROUND ONE WEEK.

SO THAT KIND OF, YOU KNOW, SET A PRECEDENT IN THE COUNTRY THAT, NO, YOU CANNOT TALENT WOMEN WHEN THEY SPEAK OUT FOR THEMSELVES, WHEN THEY SPEAK OUT FOR THEIR RIGHTS, AND IF YOU DO, THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES FOR IT.

HAVING PREVAILED IN THAT CASE, WHAT MADE YOU FEEL YOU HAD TO LEAVE NOW?

AT THAT TIME, A MOVEMENT EMERGED IN OUR REGION.

IT JUST -- IT WAS A COINCIDENCE THAT RIGHT AT THAT TIME A MOVEMENT EMERGED AGAINST THE STATE ENFORCED TERRORISM.

THE MOVEMENT WAS SPARKED BY EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLING OF A YOUNG MAN.

HE WAS LABELLED AS TERRORIST BY POLICE AND HE WAS KILLED IN A FAKE POLICE ENCOUNTER.

BECAUSE OF THAT INCIDENT, COUNTRYWIDE PROTESTS SPARKED AND THOSE PROTESTS, THEY LED INTO A LONG MARCH.

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE, THEY CAME TO ISLAMABAD, MOST OF THEM WERE YOUNG PEOPLE FROM PAKISTAN.

MOST OF THEM WERE FROM A TRIBAL AREA OF PAKISTAN WHICH HAS BEEN THE HUB OF TERRORISM FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES.

THE STATE OF PAKISTAN HAS BEEN USING IT TO HARBOR ITS PROXIES AND USE THOSE TALIBAN MILITANT ORGANIZATIONS AS PROXIES.

AND THEN AFTER 9/11 WHEN THERE WAS A LOT OF INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE TO -- ON PAKISTAN TO BECOME A PARTNER ON WAR AGAINST TERRORISM AND PAKISTAN WAS FACING INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE.

SO MILITARY COUNTERTERRORISM OPERATIONS WERE DONE IN THESE TRIBAL AREAS.

HOWEVER, MOST OF THE LEADERS OF THE TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS, THEY WERE GIVEN SAFE EXIT ALREADY.

IN THE COUNTERTERRORISM OPERATIONS LIKE, YOU KNOW, MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO WERE TARGETED WERE COMMON, INNOCENT PEOPLE.

THEIR HOMES WERE DESTROYED.

MILLIONS OF PEOPLE GOT DISPLACED.

YOUR ALLEGATION IS WHAT, THAT THEY ARE USING THE TRIBAL AREAS AS A COVER FOR THEIR FAILURE TO CONTROL THESE TERRORIST GROUPS?

SO WHAT IS YOUR THEORY OF THE CASE OF THE PAKISTANI SECURITY FORCES?

OUR THEORY IS THAT PAKISTAN MILITARY HAS BEEN FACILITATING TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS.

THEY HAD BEEN PROMOTING AND PROTECTING TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS SO THAT THEY CAN BE USED.

THEY HAD NOT JUST TURNED BLIND EYE, THEY ARE PARTNER IN THE CRIME.

AND THE MOST IMPORTANT, AS PART OF THE MOVEMENT, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR US IS THAT THE MILITARY SHALL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES THAT HAVE BEEN COMMITTED IN THE REGIONS.

YOU KNOW, THE TRIBAL REGIONS OF PAKISTAN THEY WERE KEPT AS A BLACK HOLE.

THE PAKISTAN CONSTITUTION DID NOT APPLY OVER THERE, PAKISTANI LAWS DID NOT APPLY OVER THERE.

THERE WAS A DIFFERENT KIND OF -- THEY WERE RULED, THEY WERE GOVERNED BY DIDN'T KIND OF LAWS.

PEOPLE DID NOT HAVE ACCESS TO FREE AND FAIR TRAVEL.

MEDIA WAS NOT ALLOWED.

CIVIL SOCIETY WAS NOT ALLOWED TO MONITOR THE CONFLICT.

FOR A LONG TIME, FOR DECADES, THE WORLD WAS NOT KNOWING WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING IN THE TRIBAL AREAS, BUT THEN AFTER THIS MOVEMENT EMERGED, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE CAME TOGETHER AND THEY ARE ASKING FOR JUSTICE.

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ARE ASKING FOR PUTTING AN END TO WAR ECONOMY.

THE BASIC PROBLEM IN THE WHOLE, YOU KNOW, IN PAKISTAN IS THAT OUR ECONOMY IS WAR ECONOMY.

IT IS FUELED BY WAR.

WE ARE DEPENDING ON AID FROM THE U.S. IN THE COUNTERTERRORISM OPERATIONS, AND WE WILL KEEP ON RECEIVING AID ON COUNTERTERRORISM OPERATIONS ONLY IF THERE IS A PROBLEM.

SO YOUR ARGUMENT IS THAT THE PEOPLE IN THIS AREA HAVE ESSENTIALLY BEEN HELD HOSTAGE?

YEAH.

BOTH BY PAKISTANI MILITARY FORCES, SECURITY FORCES AND ALSO BY TERRORISTS AND THAT THEY'RE BASICALLY CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE AND YOUR ARGUMENT IS THAT YOU HAVE NOW BEEN TARGETED BECAUSE YOU'RE SPEAKING UP FOR THEM ?

YES.

YOU'VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS SO LONG, 17 YEARS.

ALL THIS TIME YOU CERTAINLY LEFT THE COUNTRY TO MEET WITH OTHER ACTIVISTS AND SIGNIFICANT FIGURES AROUND THE WORLD, BUT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME YOU FELT THAT YOU HAD TO FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE.

YEAH.

WHY IS THAT?

IT WAS NOVEMBER 2018 WHEN THE INTELLIGENCE OF PAKISTAN, THEY APPROACHED ME.

THEY CALLED ME FOR A MEETING.

THEY SAID, YOU KNOW, WE WANT TO SETTLE THE MATTER WITH YOU SO WE WANT TO HAVE A MEETING WITH YOU.

THEY CALLED ME TO THEIR DISTRICT HEADQUARTER AND WHEN I WENT THERE --

YOU ACTUALLY DID GO?

I ACTUALLY DID GO.

MY FATHER DID NOT WANT ME TO GO, BUT I WANTED TO GO AND SEE WHAT WAS HAPPENING.

MY FATHER WAS JUST AFRAID THEY WOULD TAKE ME FROM THERE AND MAKE ME A MISSING PERSON, SO HE WENT WITH ME THERE.

WHEN I WENT TO THE MEETING I DID ASK THEM, WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM?

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ARE COMING AND PARTICIPATING IN THE PROTESTS.

I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE, BUT WHY ARE YOU TARGETING ME?

AND THEY TOLD ME BECAUSE YOU ARE -- BECAUSE YOU ARE AN INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST.

YOU ARE PART OF THE MOVEMENT.

THE MOVEMENT IS SEEN AS A CREDIBLE MOVEMENT INTERNATIONALLY BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, AND THAT IS WHY WE DO NOT WANT YOU TO BE PART OF THE MOVEMENT.

AND WHAT DID THEY SAY?

DID THEY SPECIFICALLY TELL YOU TO STOP TALKING -- DID THEY MAKE DEMANDS OF YOU?

OH, YEAH, THEY TOLD MY FATHER IF YOU DO NOT MAKE SURE THAT SHE'S SILENT.

THEY TOLD YOU TO YOUR FACE?

THEY TOLD IT ON THE FACE OF MY FATHER THAT WE WILL KILL HER FOR SHE DOES NOT STOP SUPPORTING THE MOVEMENT.

IF YOU DO NOT CONTROL HER.

IF SHE'S NOT SILENCED ONWARD, WE WILL KILL HER.

IT'S JUST SO EASY FOR HER TO PROMOTE THE NARRATIVE THAT SHE HAS BEEN KILLED BY THE MOVEMENT HIMSELF BECAUSE MOVEMENTS NEED MARTYRS AND SHE WILL BECOME THE FIRST MARTYR OF THE MOVEMENT.

THEY SAID IT ON THE FACE OF MY FATHER THAT WE WILL KILL HER AND WHAT NEXT.

TO THE DEGREE THAT YOU CAN WITHOUT COMPROMISING THE SAFETY OF OTHERS, HOW DID YOU GET OUT?

MY PICTURES WERE PASTED ON ALL THE BORDERS OF PAKISTAN UNDER THE MOST WANTED LIST.

SO MY PICTURES WERE EVERYWHERE.

I HEARD FROM DIFFERENT FRIENDS THAT THEY HAVE DEPLOYED PAKISTA PAKISTAN SECURITY FORCES HAVE DEPLOYED SPECIAL PEOPLE ON THE BORDERS WHO ARE LOOKING FOR ME SO THAT I CANNOT LEAVE PAKISTAN.

HOWEVER, I HAD A SMALL SECURITY NET.

MY FRIENDS WENT OUT AND THEY WENT TO ALL BORDERS OF PAKISTAN.

THEY DID RESEARCH ON EVERY POSSIBLE MEANS -- ON EVERY POSSIBLE SAFEST MEANS TO GET OUT OF PAKISTAN.

THEY FOUND A WAY FOR ME.

WHAT ABOUT HERE?

I MEAN, JUST YOU'RE IN NEW YORK AT THE MOMENT.

YOU DO HAVE FAMILY HERE.

DO YOU FEEL SAFE HERE?

I MEAN, THERE ARE -- THERE'S A LARGE PAKISTANI COMMUNITY HERE.

I MEAN, DO YOU FEEL THAT THE REACH OF THE SECURITY FORCES EXTENDS THIS FAR OR DO YOU FEEL THAT THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES IS SUFFICIENT?

I CAME TO THE U.S. WITH THE VISION OF GETTING PROTECTION.

I -- THE PROTECTION WHICH I COULD NOT GET IN MY OWN COUNTRY, THE COUNTRY WHERE I ALWAYS WANTED TO LIVE, THE COUNTRY WHICH I NEVER WANTED TO LEAVE, BUT I WAS MADE TO FEEL SO UNSAFE THAT I COULDN'T LIVE THERE ANYMORE.

I WAS -- ACTUALLY, I WOULD NOT SAY THAT I LEFT PAKISTAN.

I WAS FORCED TO LEAVE PAKISTAN.

THAT WAS NOT MY CHOICE.

THAT WAS -- THAT THE STATE COMPELLED ME TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY.

NOW I AM HERE SEEKING PROTECTION AND I HOPE THAT THIS IS A FREE SOCIETY.

I CAN BE -- I CAN BE THE -- I BELIEVE THAT THE STATE HERE WILL PROTECT ME.

HOWEVER, SAFETY BEING -- FEELING SAFE IS NOT A MAGIC BULLET.

AND ON THE FEW DAYS AGO THERE WAS A PROTEST IN FRONT OF UNITED NATIONS.

SOME OF MY FRIENDS WERE FROM THE MOVEMENT THEY WERE HOLDING A PROTEST WITH PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN, IMRAN KAHN, WAS SPEAKING AT THE UNITED NATIONS.

ON THAT DAY HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE WERE PROTESTING IN FRONT OF THE U.N. BECAUSE OF THE KASHMIR ISSUE.

AND MANY OF THE PROTESTERS WERE ALSO PRO-PAKISTANI, PRO-ISI PEOPLE THAT WERE IN THE PROTEST.

OUR PROTEST WHICH WAS AGAINST STATE-ENFORCED TERRORISM IN PAKISTAN AND FOR PEACE IN PAKISTAN, WE WERE A SMALL GROUP OF 25 PEOPLE.

AND WHEN THESE PRO-ISI PAKISTANI PEOPLE CAME TO KNOW THAT I WAS ALSO THERE IN THE PROTEST, HUNDREDS OF THEM CAME DOWN TO OUR PROTEST AND THEY STARTED SHOUTING AT ME THAT I'M A TRAITOR, THAT I'M A TRAITOR, AND, YOU KNOW, THEY WERE -- THEY WERE GIVING VERY VULGAR SIGNS AS IF THEY WERE, YOU KNOW, HARASSING ME.

YEAH.

AND GIVING ME RAPE THREATS.

SO THEIR BODY LANGUAGE WAS VERY --

THAT HAD TO HAVE BEEN FRIGHTENING.

YOU KNOW, I JUST -- YOU KNOW, I FELT SO SAD WHEN I LOOKED AT THEM BECAUSE I WAS, LIKE, LOOK, HERE I AM, SOMEONE WHO JUST LEFT EVERYTHING IN THE STRUGGLE OF SURVIVAL, WHO LEFT HER FAMILY, WHO LEFT HER COUNTRY AND CAME HERE SO THAT SHE CAN SURVIVE, SHE CAN SPEAK OUT, AND WE ARE JUST A SMALL GROUP OF 25 PEOPLE, BUT YOU WILL NOT EVEN LET ME SPEAK HERE?

SO IF I SPEAK ABOUT, YOU KNOW, I DON'T KNOW HOW BIG OF IMPACT I CAN HAVE IF I SPEAK IN FRONT OF U.N. IN A SMALL PROTEST.

LIKE, IT WAS A SMALL VOICE, BUT THEY WERE NOT EVEN TOLERANT TO A SMALL GROUP OF PEOPLE, TO OUR VOICE.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO GAIN BY SPEAKING OUT HERE?

I AM HOPING THAT BY BEING HERE I AM DEFYING THE PAKISTAN STATE'S AIM OF SILENCING ME.

MY PURPOSE OF BEING HERE IS TO KEEP ON RAISING VOICE ABOUT THE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES THAT HAVE BEEN COMMITTED IN THE PERSON TOMORROW REGION BY PAKISTAN MILITARY.

BY SPEAKING OUT, I AM HOPING THAT I WILL BE ABLE TO GET JUSTICE FOR THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE VICTIMS OF FORCED DISAPPEARANCES, WHO ARE VICTIMS OF EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS.

BY COMING HERE AND SPOKING OUT, I HOPE TO ACHIEVE PEACE FOR MY PEOPLE.

I HOPE TO ACHIEVE PEACE IN PAKISTAN.

ALSO IN THE PAST FOUR MONTHS, I HAVE EXPERIENCED THAT WHEN YOU ARE A WOMAN PEACE BUILDER AND YOU ARE AT RISK BY THE STATE -- BY YOUR OWN STATE, THERE IS SO LITTLE SUPPORT FOR YOU OUT THERE.

I HAD MY SISTER IN THE U.S. AND SHE WAS SPEAKING OUT AND SHE WAS MAKING SURE THAT MY CASE IS NOT FORGOTTEN.

THAT PEOPLE ARE LISTENING.

PEOPLE ARE AWARE THAT THERE IS A PEACE ACTIVIST WHO IS IN DANGER, WHOSE LIFE IS IN DANGER AND SHE NEEDS TO BE RESCUED, BUT I AM JUST ONE LUCKY PERSON WHO HAD A SISTER AND WHO HAD INTERNATIONAL -- SUPPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.

SOME PEACE ORGANIZATIONS, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS WHO KEPT ON RAISING VOICE FOR ME.

NOT EVERY WOMAN PEACE BUILDER, NOT EVERY HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER IS THAT LUCKY.

AND BY COMING HERE I WANT TO BE VOICE OF THOSE HUMAN RIGHT DEFENDERS WHOSE LIFE ARE AT RISK IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY AND THERE IS NO ONE TO SPEAK OUT FOR THEM.

I UNDERSTAND THAT AS A CITIZEN OF PAKISTAN YOU DON'T FEEL CALLED TO CRITICIZE THE POLICIES OF THE UNITED STATES, BUT I DO WANT TO ASK IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE CURRENT POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT IN THE UNITED STATES WHICH HAS BECOME I DON'T KNOW WHETHER THE WORD IS HOSTILE, IN SOME QUARTERS IT IS MORE HOSTILE TO PEOPLE SEEKING POLITICAL ASYLUM.

DOES THAT CONCERN YOU?

YOU KNOW, I -- I KNOW THAT THE WORLD IS BECOMING UNFRIENDLY TO IMMIGRATION.

NOW COUNTRIES DO NOT WANT PEOPLE FROM OTHER COUNTRIES.

EVEN WHEN THEY'RE AT RISK, EVEN WHEN THEIR LIFE IS AT RISK THEY ARE, YOU KNOW, NOT WELCOMED.

SO IT MAYBE YOU FEEL LIKE A STATELESS PERSON.

IT MAKES YOU FEEL AS IF YOU ARE BEING PERSECUTED BY YOUR OWN COUNTRY.

THEN YOU HAVE NOWHERE TO GO.

SO YOU REMAIN IN A STATE OF LIMBO.

IT IS A VERY PAINFUL SITUATION WHEN YOU'RE NOT SURE WHERE TO LOOK FORWARD.

YOU KNOW, TO WHOM YOU CAN LOOK FORWARD TO, TO WHOM YOU CAN LOOK UP TO FOR PROTECTION.

SO IT IS A --

IT'S DIFFICULT.

IT'S A VERY -- IT'S A DIFFICULT SITUATION.

SO BEFORE I LET YOU GO, THOUGH, IS THERE ANYTHING GIVING YOU HOPE RIGHT NOW?

WHEN I LOOK AT THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN MY COUNTRY AND I LOOK AT THE COLLECTIVE POWER OF YOUNG PEOPLE, THEY ARE COMING TOGETHER FOR PEACE.

I HAVE NEVER SEEN SOMETHING THAT BEAUTIFUL.

WHEN I AM -- I WILL BE STANDING BACK HOME -- I WOULD BE STANDING IN A PROTEST AND THERE WOULD BE 50,000 PEOPLE, 70,000 PEOPLE TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE ASKING FOR PEACE.

THAT GIVES ME HOPE.

I THINK THE COLLECTIVE POWER OF YOUNG PEOPLE TO ASK FOR PEACE IS THE MOST POWERFUL THING IN THE WORLD.

GULALAI ISMAIL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SPEAKING WITH US.

THANK YOU.

About This Episode EXPAND

Mikhail Kasyanov sits down with Christiane Amanpour to explain Russia’s role in the situation in Syria. Nina Jankowicz joins the program to discuss Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry, and Jonathan Powell offers his perspective on the UK and EU’s new Brexit deal. Gulalai Ismail tells Michel Martin about her advocacy for human rights.

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