| Molly Campbell, alias Misbah Ahmed Rana, in Lahore on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Lahore, Nov. 29 (Reuters): A Pakistani court today ordered a British girl at the centre of a custody dispute, Molly Campbell, to be returned to her mother in Scotland.
Justice Saqib Nisar of the Lahore high court said the girl’s father, Sajad Ahmed Rana, must hand her over in a week.
Police in Britain launched an investigation in August after the 12-year-old girl left her mother in the Western Isles of Scotland to travel to Lahore to be with her father.
“The respondent ... shall hand over the custody of the minor within seven days from now to some female official of the British High Commission,” Nisar told the court, adding that she could then be returned to her mother.
The girl, known by the Pakistani side of her family as Misbah Irum Ahmed Rana, had said she wanted to stay with her father.
When the order was announced, the girl put her head on her father’s shoulder and started to cry. She did not speak to reporters.
Initially, the judge ordered that she be handed over within four days, but the lawyer for Molly’s father, Abdul Basit, requested more time to prepare a challenge in the Pakistani supreme court.
“I’m very upset. I’m so depressed. I can’t speak too much but what I want to say is that I’ll go for an appeal,” the father said.
Later, speaking to Sky News, Rana said his family was devastated by the decision to send the girl back to live with her mother.
“Her mother won’t allow her to see her brothers and sister or me, and she’s not happy in the conditions, the way she was staying,” he said. “I’m just devastated. I mean this child doesn’t have say in this matter. This is supposed to be a world where every human being has right and I don’t think so nobody is listening to her.”
A lawyer for the girl’s mother, Louise Campbell, who is Molly’s legal guardian, welcomed the judge’s decision.
“I’m quite happy. I spoke to Louise on the phone and informed her of the verdict,” said the lawyer, Nahida Mehboob Elahi.
Pakistan and Britain signed an agreement in 2003 under which police and judicial authorities in both countries help each other to resolve some 400 cases of disputes over children brought from Britain to Pakistan every year.
The girl’s parents were married in a Muslim ceremony in Glasgow in 1984, and had two sons and two daughters. After the marriage broke down, the children lived with their father and moved to Pakistan.