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Last Updated: Monday, 2 October 2006, 22:42 GMT 23:42 UK
Girl at the heart of global family feud
By Barbara Plett
BBC News, Islamabad

Sajad Rana, Misbah Rana and  Tahmina
Misbah (centre) says it is a relief to be back with her family in Pakistan

The late afternoon sun is warm, but not hot. Misbah Rana is laughing as she plays a game of badminton with her brother at her home in a leafy suburb of the Pakistani city of Lahore.

At least, it is her home for now. The 12-year-old girl, also known as Molly Campbell in the UK, is at the heart of a custody clash that pits British against Pakistani law and defies conventional scenarios of child abduction.

Misbah was living on the isle of Lewis, off with west coast of Scotland, with her mother, Louise Fairley, but left at the end of August and flew to Pakistan with her sister Tahmina and father, Sajad Rana.

The distraught Ms Fairley made an emotional appeal through the media, claiming that her daughter had been taken by force. Since then Misbah and Mr Rana have been trying to prove her wrong.

"This life is the best life anybody can have," says Misbah. "There's nothing you can do there (in the UK) that you can't do here. Over here you are free, over there we get racial abuse, we get called Pakis and that, and over here, it's fun, it's wicked here."

Privileged life

There's a fountain on one side of the spacious yard, an eight-bedroom house, and a pet goat tethered next to a coop of chickens and pigeons.

It's a privileged life by Pakistani standards, and quite a change from the cramped home of Misbah's mother.

If the courts tell me to go back I'll run away again
Misbah Rana

There are other differences too. Misbah says she was lonely when she was living on the Scottish island.

"I didn't have anyone related to me except my mum, everybody would be saying, 'Oh my dad bought me this, and oh my sister gave me this for my birthday present,' and I'd be like, yeah I wish my sister was here, I wish my dad was here, and I wish my brothers were here."

Misbah says she was uncomfortable with the lifestyle of her mother, who has left the Muslim faith. And she adds that it is a relief to be back with the rest of her family.

How long she will stay is the question that now needs to be answered.

In the ornate red brick compound housing the city's high court, a judge is preparing to decide where her home should be.

Misbah's mother has custody in Scotland, and has filed a petition to get her back. She says Misbah was taken to Pakistan illegally.

Legal battle

Misbah's father argues that it is easier to raise his daughter as a Muslim in Pakistan, and says he wants her to be where she is happy.

The family home
Misbah lives a relatively privileged life in Pakistan

Custody disputes over children brought from Britain to Pakistan are not uncommon. The two countries signed an agreement in 2003 to help each other resolve more than 300 cases every year.

But few if any of the children are as vocal about what they want as Misbah.

"If I have to go back I'll be angry," she says. "I absolutely don't want to live with my mum, it's absolutely obvious that I want to live with my dad. If the courts tell me to go back I'll run away again."

It is the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and the family in Pakistan breaks the fast together each day.

Misbah takes her seat next to her father, brother and sister in a large airy dining room with windows from floor to ceiling. They pray before passing out dates and pouring glasses of juice.

Misbah says she is sure about where she belongs. But this family fight has turned into an international legal battle that is bigger than the wishes of a 12-year old child.


SEE ALSO
Misbah continues stay in Lahore
30 Sep 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Misbah ordered to stay in Lahore
26 Sep 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Mother's legal move in Misbah row
19 Sep 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Police pledge in girl custody row
08 Sep 06 |  Highlands and Islands

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