Schoolgirl says: 'It was my choice to come to Pakistan'

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The Independent Online

Molly Campbell, the schoolgirl whose disappearance sparked an international manhunt, surfaced in Pakistan yesterday to denounce allegations that her father had kidnapped her.

Speaking in Lahore, Molly, who has asked to be known by her Muslim name Misbah Iram Ahmed Rana, said she had been miserable living in Scotland and wanted to be with her father and family in Pakistan.

Looking happy and relaxed, sitting beside her father, the 12-year-old said: "It was my own choice. 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.

"I knew that my mum would miss me, but I miss my family. It was hard to not see my family and I had to live with my mum and I wanted to live with my family. I thought I could live with my dad and I could still see my mum."

As the schoolgirl emerged from hiding in Lahore, her older brother, speaking in Glasgow, launched a scathing attack on their mother, Louise Campbell, for claiming Molly had been abducted.

Molly walked out of her school in Stornoway on Lewis in the Western Isles last Friday and flew to Glasgow with her older sister before leaving the country for Lahore with her father.

Claims that she may have been kidnapped to take part in an arranged marriage with a 25-year-old man in Pakistan prompted her mother, Louise Campbell, to make an emotional plea on Monday for her immediate return.

Ms Campbell, 38, is the girl's legal guardian after she won custody following the break-up of her marriage to Molly's father, Sajad Ahmed Rana in 2001.

The couple, who married in 1984 when Mr Rana was 23 and Ms Campbell 16, have three other children. Their eldest child, Omar, 20, is married and lives in Manchester, while Tahmina, 18, and second son Adam, live in Pakistan with their father.

Molly's disappearance sparked an international police hunt involving the Northern Constabulary, Interpol and both the UK and Pakistan authorities. Glasgow Central Labour MP Mohammed Sarwar even flew out to Pakistan to help trace the girl and mediate between Mr Rana and his former wife.

The girl's family in Pakistan have said they will provide her with a phone and computer so that she can maintain contact with her mother. However, Molly's brother, Omar Rana, accused his mother of being in the wrong.

"I am angry and I am upset that my mum had to go to this length and say that she had been abducted. It's rubbish," he said.

As Ms Campbell is Molly's legal guardian she is within her rights, under the child abduction protocol, to ask a Pakistani judge to order that Molly is returned to Scotland.

Yesterday she refused to comment on what the rest of her family had said, but in a statement released through her solicitors she maintained her right to get Molly returned. "We are acting in the best interests of the child and we're doing all we can to secure Molly back," the statement said.