A British woman has been handed a life imprisonment by a court in Pakistan for attempting to smuggle 63kg of heroin out of the country.
26-year-old Khadija Shah, from Birmingham, was arrested in May 2012 after the drugs were found in her luggage when she was about to board a plane from Islamabad airport.
Pregnant at the time, Shah, who also has two other children, aged four and five, will remain in the country’s prison with her youngest child, Malaika, who was born whilst she was in custody.
Malaika, now 16-months-old, will continue to grow up in the prison as she has done for all her life and her mother said if it wasn’t for her, she would have gone crazy.
Speaking to Vice, she said: “If Malaika was not here, I would be crazy because things are very hard… she keeps me strong.”
“I am still breastfeeding…every three months Prisoners Abroad give me some money for basic food items and Pampers for the baby, who I keep clean.
“She likes to play with empty wrappers of food items. I usually try to keep our surroundings clean, too.”
The mother claims she had no idea what was inside the luggage and had been used by a third party with the drugs hidden in her suitcase, not to her knowledge.
She claimed a man, named in court as Imran Khan, brought her, and her two children at the time, to the country and spoilt them with all expenses paid to gain her trust.
On return to the UK, Khan reportedly gave Shah two suitcases, claiming they were for a friend’s daughter who was getting married.
Not-for-profit organisation, Reprieve, has called on the British government to help Khadija to appeal against her sentence.
Maya Foa, director of Reprieve’s Death Penalty team, said: “This is a terrible outcome for Khadija and her baby Malaika. As happens in hundreds of cases, she was used as a drugs mule without her knowledge, and yet is facing life in a Pakistani prison.
“The UK government must ensure that Khadija gets the urgent assistance she needs to appeal her sentence so that her baby doesn’t grow up behind bars.”
The mother and daughter are currently being held in Adiala jail, in Rawalpindi, where some of Pakistan’s most notorious terrorists are based.