THREE agonising years after Gemma Wilkinson last saw her daughter, Atiya, the six-year-old finally flew back to Britain after a multinational police operation tracked her to a city in Pakistan.
On November 6, 2009, Ms Wilkinson believed the three-year old was going to the north-west English town of Southport with her father, Razwan Anjum, to celebrate her birthday. Ms Wilkinson was not on good terms with Anjum, but had expected him to bring the toddler back the following week.
Atiya finally returned on Friday night, landing at Manchester just after 7pm. Ms Wilkinson, with one of Anjum's brothers, met her at the airport. She said she never gave up hope and planned to give her the birthday presents she bought for her each year they had been apart.
Ms Wilkinson broke down as she described the moment she saw Atiya after more than three years apart.
She said: ''I am just absolutely overwhelmed at seeing Atiya now and giving her a cuddle and a massive kiss. I am just absolutely overwhelmed.
''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. It's just been an absolute whirlwind. It was very emotional. She is how I expected. She looks exactly the same as she did three years ago, she is just taller and a bit older.''
It seems Atiya had been living among her father's family in Sialkot, eastern Punjab, but not with Anjum, who has spent most of the past three years in jail in Britain after refusing to reveal her whereabouts. He always insisted he had received Ms Wilkinson's permission to take Atiya on holiday to Pakistan but did not know what happened to her after he returned home without her.
Manchester police long suspected her likely location, but wasted months looking for her in Iran after her father repeatedly lied to them.
The judge who jailed Anjum for contempt said he had demonstrated the most cynical and cruel behaviour he had dealt with in 30 years. GUARDIAN