Sun, Sep 03, 2006 - Page 5 News List

`Abducted' custody battle girl happy in Lahore with father


A 12-year-old girl taken from Scotland to Pakistan allegedly against her will has said she chose to return to be with her father in the South Asian nation, where the father plans to seek legal custody.

Molly Campbell arrived in the eastern city of Lahore from Glasgow with her Pakistani father and elder sister on Aug. 25, a day after her mother reported her missing and accused her ex-husband of abducting the girl from their remote Scottish island home.

"Yeah, it was my own choice, I really like it here," the smiling pigtailed girl, also known as Misbah Iram Ahmed Rana, said from her father's Lahore home on Friday.

"I am with my dad, I haven't seen him for a year and a half. I am living with him. My mum didn't let me see my dad," she added. "I am enjoying it."

Her mother, Louise Campbell, is the child's legal guardian after obtaining legal custody in court last year, Scottish police said.

But the girl's father, Sajad Ahmed Rana, planned to apply for guardianship yesterday, said the man's lawyer, Mohammed Basit.

"We are preparing a legal guardian law suit for her father," Basit said. "We will proceed for interim custody and then for guardianship."

Scottish police, who have said the case could be a violation of the Child Abduction Act, said they have completed their investigation and filed a report to prosecutors, who will determine whether to take further action.

Mohammed Sarwar, a British lawmaker from Glasgow of Pakistani descent, arrived in Lahore on Friday and met the girl and her family after her mother's pleas for her daughter to be returned.

"The girl has told me that she has traveled to Pakistan under her own free will and nobody has forced her," Sarwar said. "She said she wants to live in Pakistan."

But Sarwar added that the father "has probably broken the law" by taking his daughter from her mother.

British and Pakistani judiciary officials signed a 2003 protocol to return abducted children to the country where they normally lived and where a court can decide which parent the child should live with.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said British authorities had not yet contacted Pakistani officials for assistance.

"To investigate this case we would require some kind of approach by the British government and if they do of course are people will investigate," ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.

Scottish police said the girl was last seen at her school in Stornoway, the principal town on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides Islands, on Aug. 25.

The girl's father visited Stornoway on Aug. 24 and departed later for Glasgow. The following day, the girl was met at her school by her elder sister, Tahmina, and they flew from Stornoway to Glasgow before boarding a flight to Lahore.

Sarwar said the girl's father offered to let his daughter return to Scotland with the lawmaker.

"The girl said she didn't want to leave here," Sarwar said, adding that the father would let his daughter call her mother daily.

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