Child kidnappings a growing problem in Pakistan

The gang who snatched five-year-old Sahil Saeed could be linked to wider militant groups - with child kidnappings becoming a growing problem in Pakistan, leading experts said today.

The adduction was symptomatic of the "extremely weak police force and the general breakdown of law and order in Punjab", said Farzana Shaikh, author of Making Friends With Pakistan.



Pakistan is among the top five most dangerous countries in the world for kidnap and ransom with incidents in the "mid-to-high hundreds" each year, according to estimates from global security firm red24.



But Ms Shaikh said it was rare to see a Briton targeted.



She said: "Firstly, we know very little about the actual circumstances of the kidnapping. We have just hearsay and it is difficult to know whether it is just a criminal gang or wider militant groups, which are becoming more widespread and well established in Punjab.



"If it's the latter then it is a concern - if it is the former then it would raise fewer worries from a wider British perspective."



Kidnappings of Britons in the country remain rare but the incident could damage Pakistan's already battered reputation for safety, she said.



"I think it will raise the temperature and bring the spotlight back onto Pakistan which is already struggling with a poor image.



"This is too early to suggest if kidnappings are a growing trend - I suspect not - it's important not to get too out of hand."



Punjab is a particularly dangerous area thanks to the spread of militancy since the 1990s, she added.



"That militancy has spread out from the tribal regions to Punjab. This is well-documented.



"They have long been attached to the Punjab and some even have links with al Qaida.



"Unquestionably this will be of concern to police, especially considering the worrying indictment that members of the Punjabi government have been reluctant to renounce their contact with militant groups."



Lee Niblett, of red24, said Pakistani government statistics on kidnap were unreliable.



But he added: "Pakistan is in the top five countries in the world for kidnap for ransom incidents.



"Pakistani government statistics on the kidnap and ransom threat, like many in the developing world, are unreliable.



"Many incidents are not reported to the authorities for fear of retaliation by the kidnappers or of police corruption, collusion or ineptitude.



"There are also wide disparities in figures between police departments and other law enforcement agencies.



"However, we at red24 estimate that actual kidnap and ransom incidents probably number in the mid to high hundreds annually.



"There appears to have been a spike in kidnappings at the start of this year.



"Kidnappings in Pakistan are carried out by Pakistani militants, separatists, professional criminal groups and inexperienced and desperate criminal individuals.



"The majority of kidnappings for ransom, however, involve criminal gangs who normally target local businessmen.



"Although foreign nationals have been targeted, particularly by Pakistani-Taliban, other Islamist militant groups and Baluch separatists, the majority of victims remain local nationals."



The abduction of children in Pakistan is an increasing problem, Mr Niblett added.



"By targeting youngsters, kidnappers hope to play on the parents' emotions to secure quick and sizeable ransom payments."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
Sport
Lewis Hamtilon and pole-sitter Nico Rosberg
SportShould F1's most aggressive driver curb his instincts in title decider?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin