Pakistan judge orders girl, 12, back to mother in Scotland

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The Independent Online

The 12-year-old girl who prompted an international search and a legal battle after she ran away from home in Scotland to live with her father in Pakistan has been ordered to return to Britain.

Molly Campbell, also known as Misbah Rana, walked out of school in Stornoway in the Western Isles last August and flew to Pakistan with her elder sister, triggering a custody battle between her estranged parents.

Although Molly has publicly claimed that she wants to stay with her father, a High Court judge in Lahore decided this week that she should be returned to her mother.

The judge ordered that Molly must be handed over to the custody of the British High Commission within the next seven days. Once she has returned to the UK it will be up to the Scottish courts to decide which parent should have permanent custody.

Yesterday Molly's mother, Louise Campbell, said she had been speechless but overjoyed when she heard that the Pakistan High Court had ruled in her favour. "I want to reassure her that the case is still going on over here and she will get to say her point of view. I want to tell her that it is all going to be OK," said Ms Campbell, claiming that once back in the UK, Molly would be given a chance to say which parent she wants to live with.

Molly's father, Sajad Rana, who has accused his former wife of trying to get their daughter to eat what is forbidden in Islam and to drink alcohol, said his daughter was very unhappy with the decision and he would seek legal advice about an appeal.

"Misbah is devastated, she was crying, she is very upset," he said. "I was shocked by this decision. She doesn't want to go back to Scotland, she wants to stay here in Pakistan."

The lawyer who represented Ms Campbell in the Pakistan court said the case had not been about custody but whether Mr Rana acted improperly by violating a court order made in Scotlandin June last year.

Molly, who asked to be known as Misbah Iram Ahmed Rana, is the youngest of four children born to Louise Anne Campbell and Mr Rana,a 45-year-old businessman. The couple married in 1984 when he was 23 and Ms Campbell was 16. Their eldest child, Omar, 20, is married and lives in London, while Tahmia, aged 18, and their second son Adam, live in Pakistan.

Only Molly remained with her mother, despite several alleged attempts by Mr Rana to take his daughter to Pakistan. Ms Campbell, 38, was granted custody of Molly after the break-up of her marriage in 2001 and is the girl's legal guardian.

The girl emerged from hiding in Lahore to deny allegations that she had been taken to Pakistan against her will. In Glasgow meanwhile her brother Omar launched an attack on their mother for claiming Molly had been abducted. After Molly arrived in Pakistan, she said she had been miserable living in Scotland, had suffered racial abuse at school and wanted to be with her father and family. "It was my own choice," she said. "I asked my sister if I could go with her. I went with my sister. I would like to stay in Pakistan with my father."

However, Ms Campbell lodged a petition in the courts in Lahore, claiming the child had been taken there illegally by her former husband and eldest daughter.

From Stornaway to Lahore

* 25 August 2006 - Molly Campbell, her sister, Tahmina, and father, Sajad Rana, fly to Lahore in Pakistan.

* 31 August 2006 - Molly's mother, Louise, claims she was taken for an arranged marriage.

* 2 September 2006 - A court in Lahore grants Molly's father temporary custody.

* 19 September2006 - Louise Campbell lodges petition claiming Molly was abducted.

* 3 October 2006 - Molly claims she suffered racial abuse in Scotland and never wants to go back.

* 29 November2006 - The High Court in Lahore says Molly must return to the care of her mother in the UK.