Father helps hunt for son from home

Reporter: Richard Hooton
Date published: 15 March 2010

Dad’s flight back against wishes of police in Pakistan

THE father of a five-year-old boy who was kidnapped in Pakistan has returned to Oldham and is helping officers in the search for his son.

But 12 days after Sahil Saeed, from Queen Street, Shaw, was snatched by men wielding guns and grenades from his grandmother’s house in Jhelum, Punjab, he remains missing.

During a media briefing, Greater Manchester Police confirmed his father Raja Naqqash Saeed had flown home.

Chief Supt Darren Shenton said: “GMP, on behalf of UK law enforcement, is working at the behest and in conjunction with the Pakistani authorities, who are in charge of the investigation into Sahil’s kidnap.

“Both authorities are keen to ensure that Sahil is returned safely to his mother and father at the earliest opportunity.

“Following his return from Pakistan, GMP is working closely with Sahil’s father, his wife and the family to ensure the safe return of Sahil.

“GMP has not made any arrests in relation to the Pakistani investigation.”

Although Mr Saeed was free to travel, he did so against the wishes of Pakistan’s police who felt his presence could have helped them recover Sahil more quickly.

Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said he believes someone “very close to the family” was responsible for the abduction.

An investigation by a Sunday newspaper claims police in Pakistan want to ask new questions about the evidence given to them by Mr Saeed.

The Mail on Sunday said investigators are troubled by the claim that a ransom demand for Sahil was made in sterling when previous kidnappers have made their demands in Pakistani rupees.

The newspaper has also probed the family’s background and claims Mr and Mrs Saeed, who married in 2002, lived apart for more than a year before the abduction and only reunited in Britain weeks before the kidnapping. It’s claimed Mr Saeed took his son to Pakistan after the couple fell out again.

Family members told reporters that Mrs Saeed told the Home Office they were estranged, leaving Mr Saeed unable to get a British passport.

It’s also reported that two young cousins of Mr Saeed were killed last year in a feud between rival gangs.

Pakistani police have detained several people, including a taxi driver, over the kidnapping. Four police officers were suspended after it emerged that they did not initially respond to the family’s emergency call.

Former Oldham Mayor and family friend Riaz Ahmad said: “There’s just confusion. We don’t know what’s happening. It’s very strange and people are just bewildered. Everyone just wants the child back.”

He added: “The couple had been separated but they made up a few weeks before the dad went to Pakistan.”

Distraught mum Akila, who also has daughters Anisha (4) and Hafsah (21 months), has made impassioned pleas for her son’s return.