Home / News / British woman ‘held captive in Pakistan for 10 years’

British woman ‘held captive in Pakistan for 10 years’

London: The parents of Scottish kidnap victim Naheeda Bi last night spoke of their 10-year battle to find her.

As the years passed, Akram and Rabia Hussain feared their daughter was dead but they refused to give up their search.

Rabia said: “I cried and cried. I would sit by the window and sob.

“In my heart, I refused to believe she was dead but sometimes I thought I would go insane without her. I just wanted my daughter home.”

As we reported yesterday, Naheeda, 28, was beaten and drugged after being snatched at Islamabad Airport in April 2000 as she made her way home after visiting relatives in Pakistan.

For the next 10 years, she lived a hellish existence, moved from camp to camp and forced to work as a slave beside other kidnap victims in a secret munitions factory in Pakistan’s tribal regions.

Days after she went missing, her parents met with the police in Islamabad and pleaded with them to search for Naheeda.

But they claim that an officer told them: “She is not a little doll you put in your pocket. She doesn’t just disappear.”

And they say the Pakistani police refused to take their concerns seriously.

Naheeda’s Uncle Masood was also kidnapped when he went to the airport to find her so there was an assumption at first that he had abducted her.

Akram said: “We knew he hadn’t taken her and that she had been kidnapped. But no one would listen.”

Akram spent the next ten months in Pakistan but he said no serious efforts were made to find his daughter. Pakistani police are considered to be among the most corrupt in the world and Naheeda said she regularly saw uniformed officers at the remote camps where she was held in rural areas.

The family also believe they were let down by the British authorities.

A letter dated August 2000 from Keith Vaz, then a Foreign Officer minister, states clearly that Akram visited the British High Commission when his daughter went missing.

But yesterday, a spokesman for the FCO issued a statement which suggests the first contact made by the family was in 2007, despite being sent a copy of Mr Vaz’s letter.

Akram also reported her disappearance to Strathclyde Police but they told him the case was one for the Pakistani authorities and as his daughter was 18 and an adult, there was little they could do.

Akram said: “I realise she was an adult but she was born and bred in the UK. She was a British citizen, so why were there no major efforts to find her and make sure she was safe?”

Last night Strathclyde Police said they had filed a missing person’s report in 2000 but the investigation had been carried out in Pakistan.

The family also contacted the Salvation Army tracing service but their efforts came to nothing.

When a call finally came from the kidnappers three weeks ago, they could hardly believe Naheeda and Masood were alive. Rabia said: “Naheeda was put on the phone but she was crying so much she couldn’t speak.

“Then she said two things, ‘Mum, please help me’ and, ‘Please come and get me’.”

Despite initial requests for a ransom, Naheeda and Masood were released without payment.

They were abandoned in the middle of a deserted tribal area and made their way to Akram and Rabia, who were waiting for them in a hotel.

Rabia said: “When I saw my daughter for the first time in 10 years, I couldn’t believe it. So many times, I had lost hope of ever seeing her again. When I saw her, she looked so tired and ill. Her hair had been shaved, she just didn’t look like herself.”

Naheeda was flown back to the UK last week but finds it hard to comprehend she is home.

She said: “At night, I return to the camps in my head. When I wake up, I look around me twice to make sure I am really here.”

Naheeda cried the first time her mother put proper food in front of her and she says she feels disorientated in her home city of Glasgow.

She said: “The weather feels funny, the shops have changed, things look so different. I have been away so long and it feels like it.”

As the days pass, colour is returning to her cheeks. She is on a special diet because she is suffering malnutrition and she has asked for counselling.

The future seems an abstract notion now to a girl who, before she was abducted, was a pretty, pampered student engaged to an eligible young man.

She admits: “I don’t know how I see my future. The one thing that is helping is the love of my family.

“Having them around me, caring for me and protecting me is what will get me through.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Pinterest