The Pakistani Taliban, the country’s most active banned terrorist group, have taken responsibility for both attacks.
For the past six months, Ms. Ismail’s parents have moved in and out of court, although Mr Ismail’s health has gradually deteriorated. “I have a fever, strep throat, cough, headache and high blood pressure, but have to stand before the Peshawar High Court,” he wrote in late November.
A few days later, he and his wife tested positive for Covid-19.
“The puppet dishes are responsible for our suffering,” he said in another message.
In Pakistan today, there was little room for political disagreement. Former leaders have been jailed or persecuted. Prime Minister Imran Khan, once an internationally renowned cricket star, is widely viewed as being under the thumb of the military, who have waged shadow wars for years and who take turns working with or against various militant groups, including the Afghan Taliban insurgency.
In this atmosphere, many human rights activists have disappeared into the hands of the security services, while known terrorists move untouched.
“Indeed, in Pakistan, banned terrorist outfits are not banned and move freely,” said Afrasiab Khattak, a senior politician and former MP. “But people who, because of their barbarism, always raised votes against prohibited outfits, were punished in unfounded cases.”
In fact, just last week the Pakistani Supreme Court ordered the release of Ahmed Omar Sheikh, a British national and militant who was convicted as the mastermind behind the abduction and beheading of Daniel Pearl, a celebrated Wall Street Journal reporter, in 2002. Many countries, including the United States, had put tremendous pressure on Pakistan to keep Mr. Sheikh in prison.