For the majority of Londoners, the thought of continuing life without knowing the location of your children is unthinkable. For Safraz Khan, he has had to undergo that torment for over a decade, after his ex-wife abducted their seven-year-old daughter and is believed to have fled to Pakistan.
Aamina Khan was last seen by her dad after he dropped her off at her grandmother’s home in Morden, to spend time with her mum for two weeks over the summer holidays. Since the separation of her parents when she was three years old, she had been placed in the custody of Mr Khan but would visit her mum over holidays and weekends.
In September 2011, he travelled from his home in Croydon to collect her, but realised something was wrong when nobody answered the door. Panicking, he contacted family members who told him his ex-wife Humma Dar, had taken their daughter for a trip to the Lake District.
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However, after he realised he was unable to contact Humma, he phoned the police and officially reported his daughter as a missing person. The investigation found that Humma had fled the country with Aamina, and had taken a flight to Lahore, Pakistan, to establish a new life.
Over the following months, Mr Khan, a senior research scientist, made numerous trips to Pakistan in an attempt to track down his only daughter. By 2013, he had written over 1,000 letters desperately seeking answers and had launched criminal proceedings against family members who had aided Humma in her escape.
He has claimed that the youngster is being hidden by family members who repeatedly fail to cooperate with Pakistani and UK authorities who have been investigating the abduction.
During an interview with the Guardian, he said: “It’s the worst thing ever. Aamina was this happy, bubbly, talkative, active, little girl and our bond was so close. Now I just go home to an empty house day after day, not knowing where she is, or if she’s even safe.”
In a case heard in 2013, a judge said that the courts “will not give up”. Deputy High Court Judge Clive Heaton said: “Ir is an extraordinarily serious matter. This child has been missing for approaching two years. Sadly the whereabouts of both the mother and child remain unknown.”
He added: “It is impossible not to have sympathy with the father. I urge the father to continue to pursue all proper steps open to him to locate his daughter. Where the court can properly assist him in the search, it will certainly do so.”
A website was established to promote awareness of Aamina’s disappearance, with Mr Khan appealing for anyone to come forward with information. In a written statement, he said: “She is an intelligent and happy go lucky child and loved by everyone.
“Aamina Khan was born in the UK and has only lived in the UK until she was abducted by Humma Fazal Karim Dar, with the help of others. The abduction was a selfish act, spiteful and merely to cause harm and hurt to Aamina’s father, Safraz Khan and his family members. The mother is a qualified doctor and has had her GMC medical registration suspended as a result of her unlawful action.”
In a message directly addressed to Aamina, he continued: “Aamina, wherever you are, your papa loves you very much, if you have been told your father doesn’t love you or doesn’t care about you, or never wanted you, or gave you to your mother then it’s a lie. Your mother Humma Fazal Karim Dar abducted/kidnapped you so that I would never see you again. Aamina I would never give you up I love you too much.”
When asked for an update, officers from the Metropolitan Police told MyLondon: “In August 2011 a girl – then aged 6 who resided with her father – was taken by her mother in a pre-arranged visit from her home in Croydon. The child was not returned, and inquiries confirmed that the mother and her daughter flew to Pakistan that month. We continue to liaise with the Pakistani authorities through Interpol, but at this time the child’s whereabouts are still unknown.”
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