Page last updated at 19:36 GMT, Saturday, 6 March 2010

Sahil Saeed kidnap - mother pleads for return of son

Sahil Saeed
Sahil Saeed was taken by robbers after a raid on his grandmother's home

The mother of a five-year-old UK boy kidnapped in Pakistan has pleaded for his safe return.

Sahil Saeed was snatched by armed robbers on Wednesday while visiting relatives with his father.

Mother Akila Naqqash made a tearful appeal to his captors, saying she would "forgive them" if they released Sahil and that all she could do was pray.

Reports say Pakistan's prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani has urged police to increase efforts to find the boy.

Mrs Naqqash said their family had "been praying all day and all night" for his release.

Asked if she had a message for the kidnappers she said: "You should know and have it in your hearts. Please give our son back and we will forgive you. I will forgive you. God will forgive you.

"All I want is the safety of my son."

'Not sleeping'

Mrs Naqqash said Sahil had never been apart from either herself or her husband.

"It's just a nightmare. I'm not sleeping at all," she said.

"It's worse at night when I have no-one to comfort me.

"All we can do is just pray for him. I am hopeful."

Sahil was taken from his grandmother's home in the Punjab city of Jhelum as he prepared to take a taxi to the airport for his return flight to the UK.

Akila Naqqash: "I just want my son back"

The attackers are said to have demanded a £100,000 ransom for his return.

On Friday, Sahil's family, from Oldham, denied the kidnap was an "inside job".

They spoke out after a senior Pakistani diplomat hinted at the possibility, but later clarified he had not meant a relative.

Local police say they believe the kidnappers had been tipped off by someone close to the family.

It is understood several men, including a taxi driver, have been arrested.

Detectives in Pakistan have said they are confident Sahil will be returned to his family.

The boy's father, Raja Saeed, had been in Pakistan for two weeks visiting his mother with Sahil.

Nick Ravenscroft
By Nick Ravenscroft, outside the Saeed family home in Oldham
They're too tired - and too worried - to talk much by the third day of sitting and waiting for the phone to ring with news. But the weariness and anguish is written on their faces.

One of Sahil's aunts told me that they didn't sleep at all last night - but just prayed. For her every time she shuts her eyes, she says she sees Sahil's face and hears him calling out to her.

His photos are there in the front room of the small, terraced family home on the edge of the Pennines. And his pictures are also all over the newspapers and television.

Sahil's mother told me that his two younger sisters keep blowing kisses at the screen when they see him - and ask where he is and when he's coming back. Two questions which the family desperately wish they could answer.

Mr Saeed said they were just about to leave for the airport at 2300 local time (1800 GMT) when four men - armed with guns and a grenade - approached the house.

Up to 10 family members inside the house were beaten by the intruders during a six-hour ordeal, he said.

The robbers took items believed to be jewellery and money and fled with the boy.

They said they would be back in touch, but the boy's father said he had not heard from them.

Mrs Naqqash's brother-in-law, Tauseer Ahmad, 34, said the family had been inundated with support.

He said one lady had sent a postal order for £5 while another card said a Christian church group would pray for them.

"We are a simple working class family from Oldham," said Mr Ahmad.

"What I don't understand is why us? We are not millionaires but there are some in streets around there (in Pakistan)."

Mr Saeed, who has been based in the UK for about seven years, told BBC News earlier this week he was ready to swap places with his only son.

"I don't have any money at all," he said. "They can take me if they want - just let my son come back. I am nothing without him."

The British High Commission in Islamabad, has said it is "continually monitoring the situation".

A Foreign Office spokesman said Foreign Secretary David Miliband was following the case closely, and added that the case was being "overseen at the highest levels" in Pakistan.

The spokesman said: "We call on whoever is holding Sahil to return him to his family."

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