"Our staff continue to assist a British woman jailed in Pakistan."
The daughter of a Birmingham heroin smuggler has finally been released from a Pakistani jail after living there for her entire life.
Malaika was born in the notorious Adiala Prison in Rawalpindi, in Pakistan’s Punjab district. Her mother Khadija Shah gave birth to her while serving a life sentence for attempting to bring £3 million worth of heroin into the UK.
The girl has only known the confines of the prison that was built to contain 1,900 of Pakistan’s most violent criminals. It has a current population of 6,000.
She and her mother have survived in a cell shared by six other mothers. Now, at age six, Malaika has returned to the UK.
Malaika’s life has been talked about and there were demands for the girl’s freedom.
There was a prisoner transfer agreement between Pakistan and the UK in December 2018.
The agreement allowed foreign inmates in both countries to be allowed to serve their sentences closer to home.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed that she returned to the UK.
A spokesperson 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.”
Malaika’s current location has not been revealed, but it is believed she is living with family in the West Midlands.
Human rights charity Reprieve are supporting those looking after Malaika. They said that the focus is about easing her into a normal life which will take time.
Malaika will need professional help as she adapts to life in the outside world.
She will also need support to overcome the loss of her mother who is set to spend the rest of her life in Adiala.
In May 2012, Khadija was arrested at Islamabad airport after being found with two suitcases full of heroin.
She was six months pregnant with Malaika and was accompanied by her two children, aged four and five.
Her children were detained with her but were flown back to the UK after four-and-a-half months.
She narrowly avoided execution but continues to protest her innocence behind bars.
Khadija claims she was set up and was told the luggage contained nothing more than wedding garments.
Shah’s mother has been looking after her two other children following her imprisonment. She believed traffickers took advantage of a heavily pregnant woman.
Khadija spoke about her life in Adiala in 2014. She said:
“Malaika likes to play with empty wrappers of food items. I usually try to keep our surroundings clean too.
“If Malaika was not here, I would be crazy because things are very hard. She keeps me strong.”
The prison, which houses over 400 women, has been previously hit by a measles epidemic. Without her daughter, it is unknown what will happen to Khadija.