A street celebrates as a little boy, unaware of what the fuss is about, comes home
Back with his mother, Sahil Saeed will enjoy a tender readjustment to normal life
Friday 19 March 2010
Clinging to his mother's shoulder and rubbing his eyes, a very tired Sahil Saeed was back at his home last night, safe and well after his kidnap ordeal. The five-year-old was brought out by his parents for the briefest of photo calls in which he sleepily endured a blaze of flashlights and shouted questions from reporters.
All day the terraced house in Oldham, Greater Manchester, had filled with a steady stream of friends and relatives bringing sweets and gifts. All were eager to be there when the youngster arrived.
As he was carried in, draped in his father's overcoat, there were gasps and cheers from inside. Banners and balloons had been hung out to greet him. The mood inside was said to be "quiet but very happy".
Sahil's aunt, Naila Wasseem, said: "We are ecstatic. For 13 days, all we have done is non-stop praying. Now the mood's totally changed. I think today is going to be low-key, maybe the next few days we will have a party."
Earlier the cameras had been on hand to capture the moment his plane touched down at Manchester airport shortly before 7pm. From there he was whisked away in a police convoy to be reunited with his mother, Akila Naqqash.
Relatives said yesterday they had been advised to keep celebrations as sensitive as possible to help the boy readjust to his normal life. Sahil's great-uncle Mushtak Raja said everyone was excited but conscious of what he had been through. "It is important we keep things low profile. That little boy doesn't know what has gone on and we have to make sure he avoids the news. He was very happy seeing his father and enjoyed playing football with him this morning," he said. Susan Winn, a neighbour, said everyone in the street was delighted. "Akila is over the moon – we all are."
Sahil travelled home business class with his father and uncle on a Pakistan International Airlines flight from Islamabad. The three were chauffeur-driven through the streets of the Pakistan capital in a diplomatic car and taken straight on to the runway to board the plane.
Mr Saeed flew into Islamabad early yesterday, where he was reunited with his son at the home of the British High Commissioner. The pair were filmed playing football on the lawn of the residence and Sahil, prompted by his father, said: "Mummy, I miss you. Mummy, I love you." He had earlier spoken on the phone to his mother, who has spent the last two weeks watching events unfold from the family home with the couple's two daughters, aged four and 21 months.
In a statement Mr Saeed applauded the international operation to rescue his son. "Sahil is doing well, is in good spirits, and can't wait to return to the UK to see his mum, his family, and join his friends back at school. I would like to pay tribute to the tireless efforts of the Pakistani and UK authorities that resulted in the safe return of Sahil to us. I would also like to thank everyone for their messages of support that my family and I have received over the last two weeks."
Gordon Brown, on a visit to a new cancer treatment unit in Sahil's home town, welcomed the boy's return. "People, of course, are very, very happy that this potentially tragic story is ending in Sahil coming back to our country today," he said. "We will be offering our good wishes to the family."
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 3 Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron
- 4 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
- 5 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Car tax disc changes: Five facts you never knew about your (almost obsolete) tax disc
The Aral Sea: Nasa pictures show how what was once the fourth largest lake in the world has become almost completely dry
Amal Alamuddin: Human rights lawyer's legal chambers forced to upgrade website following George Clooney wedding
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
- < Previous
- Next >
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...
£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...
Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...