Page last updated at 18:59 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Father of kidnapped Sahil Saeed returns from Pakistan

Raja Saeed and Sahil Saeed
Raja Saeed has left Pakistan where his son Sahil was kidnapped

The father of a five-year-old British boy kidnapped in Pakistan has returned home, against the wishes of the country's police, the BBC has learned.

Sahil Saeed, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, was seized by an armed gang while staying with relatives last week.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the BBC that police had wanted the boy's father Raja Saeed to stay as a witness.

Police have not commented on Mr Saeed's departure. He has not been named as a suspect and so is free to travel.

AT THE SCENE
Chris Buckler, BBC News
Inside her home in Oldham, Akila Naqqash is surrounded by her family praying for her five-year-old's safe return.

She is thousands of miles away from where her son was kidnapped and she still has no idea where Sahil is.

But now there is now another mystery - where is Sahil's father, Raja?

He left Pakistan against the advice of police there, and his family in England say they had no idea that he was planning to fly back to the UK.

Relatives have spent the day trying to piece together rumour and gossip.

A friend's brother told them they saw Raja Saeed on a plane on Tuesday night. However he has not returned to his home or been in contact with the family.

They insist they do not know any reason why he would leave while the investigation into Sahil's abduction is continuing in Pakistan.

Mr Saeed's whereabouts may be the source of confusion - but it is the disappearance of his son that continues to cause such concern.

Mr Malik had previously said someone "very close to the family" had taken Sahil and that police were closing in on the kidnappers.

This was indicated by the way the abductors got into the house and their "conduct... during that whole operation", he said.

The youngster had been taken from his grandmother's home in Jhelum, Punjab, as he prepared to take a taxi to the airport for his return flight to the UK.

Four police officers were suspended after it emerged they did not initially respond to the family's emergency call.

It is understood several men, including a taxi driver, have been arrested since last Wednesday's kidnap.

Sahil had been placed on official watch lists to ensure he cannot be taken out of the country.

The BBC's Orla Guerin, in Pakistan, says that a week after Sahil's disappearance it remains unclear whether there has been contact with the kidnappers of if negotiations were taking place over a ransom payment.

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

Pakistani community groups in Oldham have said they are considering setting up a fund to pay ransoms in the event of kidnaps.

Pakistan

The UK government has a policy of not paying ransoms and advises third parties against doing so, arguing that this would encourage future kidnappings.

On Saturday, Sahil's mother Akila Naqqas pleaded for his safe return, saying she would forgive his son's captors if they released him.

She also said Sahil had never been apart from either herself or her husband.



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