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Pakistan women's rights activist released from detention

AFP  |  Islamabad 

One of Pakistan's leading women's rights activists has been released from police custody, she told AFP Thursday, after said she and others had been detained "arbitrarily".

was arrested along with 17 other members of the (PTM), a peaceful organisation defending the rights of ethnic Pashtuns, during a protest in on Tuesday.

"It was very painful for my family, who tool 30 hours to know where I was," she told AFP, adding that she had been freed late Wednesday.

She was separated from the other activists, she said, and was not placed under arrest.

"They didn't charge me with anything. They didn't let me contact my They just kept moving me around," she said.

"You cannot arrest citizens and just disappear them."

An police dealing with the case swept the claims aside.

Police follow "a proper procedure and her claims of an encounter are unthinkable," he told AFP, referring to extra-judicial murders, or "encounter killings" as they are commonly known in

He accused Ismail and the other activists of uttering "anti-state slogans".

Ismail was briefly detained in October after speaking at another PTM meeting. Her brief disappearance this week has inflamed social networks, with the hashtag #WhereIsGulalai going viral.

She has been freed, but "as a human rights defender, she is still not safe," said Rabia Mehmood, a for

"It is really alarming that peaceful protests are constantly targeted by the Pakistani state," she added.

The PTM is demanding, among other things, an end to what it says are enforced disappearances and extra-judicial murders of ethnic Pashtuns by police and other security officials.

Ismail is also the of Aware Girls, an NGO that promotes gender equality. She has received several international awards.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 07 2019. 22:20 IST