The daughter of Birmingham heroin mule has finally been released from Pakistan prison which has been home for the entire six years of her life.
Malaika, daughter of Khadija Shah who is given a life sentence for attempting to bring £3 million worth of the drug into the UK was born and raisedin notorious Adiala Prison.
The little girl has only known the squalid confines of a jail, in Rawalpindi, that was built to contain 1,900 of Pakistan’s most hardened, and violent, prisoners, but currently has a population of 6,000.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed that she was returned to the UK three weeks ago.
Malaika’s is believed to be living with family in the West Midlands.
Her mother, Khadija, has not been so lucky and will remain in Adiala.
For those looking after Malaika, supported by human rights charity Reprieve, the focus is now on easing the youngster into a normal, carefree life. That will take some time.
In a brief statement, a Foreign Office spokesman said: “Our staff continue to assist a British woman jailed in Pakistan. We supported her family in bringing her daughter to the UK, working with them and the Pakistani authorities.”
The child will need professional help as she adapts to life in the outside world.
Up until this month she and her mother have survived in a cell shared by six others.
She will need support to overcome the loss of her mother.
Khadija narrowly avoided execution after being caught with two suitcases crammed with heroin in May 2012. Behind bars, the 32-year-old continues to protest her innocence. She claims she was set up, told the luggage contained nothing more sinister than wedding garments.
Khadija claims she was asked to take the cases while on holiday and staying in an Islamabad guesthouse. The killer Class A drug was concealed in the folds of garments – 120 wraps, in all.
Six months pregnant and accompanied by her two children, aged four and five, the former Sheldon Heath Community School student was arrested at Benazir Bhutto International Airport. Her children were detained with her, but flown back to Britain after four-and-a-half months.
Khadija has spoken to the media about her hand-to-mouth existence in Adiala, which houses 400 women prisoners. Some, like Khadija, are raising children in cramped cells.
In 2014, she said: “Malaika likes to play with empty wrappers of food items. I usually try to keep our surroundings clean, too.”
When Khadija was sentenced, her then lawyer said the case underlined the Pakistan authorities’ poor record in snaring drug barons who recruit vulnerable mules.
“Khadija was asked to carry the bags by an individual and she has given the authorities his details,” he said.
“The anti-narcotics force seems only interested in picking up the carriers – women and children – and it isn’t going after the big fish.”
Khadija Shah is not the first West Midlands resident to be caught up into the murky, and potentially deadly, world of drug delivery and distribution abroad.