Abducted Atiya Anjum-Wilkinson is reunited with mother
- 28 December 2012
- From the section Manchester
A six-year-old girl who was abducted by her father and taken to Pakistan three years ago has been reunited with her mother after arriving back in the UK.
Atiya Anjum-Wilkinson was last seen when she was taken from her home in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, on her third birthday in 2009.
She was reunited with Gemma Wilkinson at a Manchester hotel.
Her mother said Atiya was "absolutely fine" and called her Mummy and gave her a big smile when they were reunited.
She said: "I am absolutely overwhelmed... with seeing her giving her a cuddle and a massive kiss."
Giving her a big hug after three years was "very emotional" and one of the first things Atiya had to do now was open a "massive amount of presents".
Ms Wilkinson said her daughter looked "exactly the same as she did three years ago she is just taller and a bit older".
Speaking after Atiya arrived on a flight into Manchester Airport shortly after 19:00 GMT, the 32-year-old said the events leading up to the reunion had been a "whirlwind".
She said: "We have gone from not knowing where Atiya is to finding out that we do know where Atiya is, to receiving pictures of Atiya and how she looks now, to Atiya coming here and Atiya actually being here."
Her return follows a five-week investigation after North West MEP Sajjad Karim formally raised her abduction with the foreign minister of Pakistan in the European Parliament.
Mr Karim said the authorities in Pakistan had been "absolutely crucial" in finding Atiya and making sure she was returned home.
Mr Karim said: "Without their assistance we couldn't have found her.
"The authorities located Atiya, they monitored the address where she was and eventually moved in and informed the people she was living with - who are the extended family of the father - that she would have to return to the UK.
"Atiya was found to be in a fit and healthy state and was well at the time. She was certainly being kept well."
Although he said there was no resistance by them, Mr Karim said the family only offered a "small amount of co-operation when it was clear the game was up and there was nowhere left to turn".
The BBC's Aleem Maqbool said Atiya was found in the village of Daska, near Sialkot in eastern Pakistan.
Atiya's mother was informed she had been found on Christmas Day and photographs were sent to her of Atiya by the Pakistani authorities.
Ms Wilkinson, from Ashton-under-Lyne, who split with Anjum in 2008, had made several appeals for information to find her daughter.
In her latest appeal last month, she described not knowing if Atiya was even alive as an "absolute nightmare".
Atiya's father Razwan Ali Anjum is serving a prison sentence for refusing to reveal his daughter's whereabouts.
Ms Wilkinson took legal action against her former partner in an attempt to force him to reveal where Atiya was.
In 2009, Anjum had said he was taking Atiya to Southport, but instead he took her to Lahore, Pakistan, and told Ms Wilkinson she would never see her again.
In April, he was handed a 12-month jail term by a High Court judge after he refused to reveal where she was.
Mr Justice Moor imposed the sentence after he found Anjum in contempt of a High Court order instructing him to disclose Atiya's whereabouts.
Anjum had indicated that Atiya was in Pakistan or Iran but said he did not know where.
The judge said: "It is absolutely absurd for him to suggest that he does not know the whereabouts of his daughter and he cannot contact her.
"I am certain he is lying."
The sentence was the fourth consecutive jail term to be imposed on Anjum. Judges have previously imposed jail terms of two years, 12 months and 12 months in the hope that he would provide the information which would allow Atiya to be reunited with her mother.