June 2019

Family’s justice as four men are jailed for 4 year old son’s kidnap and murder

A Stirling family whose four-year-old son was brutally murdered in Pakistan almost five years ago have finally received justice.

Four men were earlier this year found guilty of the murder in August, 2014, of Shahryar Ahmad and last month at a court in Faisalabad each received life sentences on charges of kidnap, murder and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

It follows a campaign by Shahryhar’s parents, Iftikhar Ahmad and Eram Jamil, lobbying from Stirling MP Stephen Kerr, cross-party support from more than 60 MPs and the work of a special unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Shahryar had been abducted outside his grandmother’s home in Faisalabad in an extortion bid and taken to a village 30 miles away where he was killed.

Concerned about the time it was taking to bring those responsible to justice, Iftikhar protested outside the Pakistan consulate in Glasgow and visited Pakistan numerous times to get the police to investigate the killing.

When the matter reached court this year Iftikhar was threatened by the four accused and their associates.

Iftikhar said this week: “The loss of a child affects you deeply. I do think we can turn a corner now with the sentences handed down to these four men, but the loss of Shahryar is something that will never leave us completely.

“I knew there was a risk taking these men on. However, I had to do it for Shahryar. I was determined to bring these men to justice.

“Every time I attended court they were there with around 10 to 15 others. I was verbally threatened by them and my cousin Omar Farook was physically attacked outside court. It was intimidating.

“However, I have to thank Stephen and his team for all their efforts in moving things forward. They were brilliant.”

Mr Kerr stressed this week that a number of factors had brought the campaign to a conclusion with the conviction of the four murderers.

Among them was a meeting with the Chief Justice of Pakistan in Westminster in November last year and a letter signed by around 60 MPs.

There was also lobbying of the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and the Governor of Punjab, and former Glasgow MP, Mohammed Sarwar.

Mr Kerr said: “Many people nudged the process along. However, the main credit has to go to Iftikhar and Eram Jamil. It has been their burden.

“A lot of members of parliament including those from the Labour Party and the SNP were also involved.

“There are more than 60 members of parliament who came together to write letters to the Chief Justice of Pakistan.”

He also pointed to the involvement of Asia Minister of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mark Field and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt as well as personnel on the ground in Pakistan, adding: “It was a highly professional operation. All of these factors combined to bring about this turn of events.”

Iftikhar, of Riverside, who has lived in Stirling for 25 years, was reunited with Eram Jamil, a bank manager in Pakistan, daughter Anabia and son Mohid in the summer of 2018. He has been working as a taxi driver in city, but is planning to start a travel agency business.

Mr Kerr added: “The people of Stirling have, characteristically, reached out to this family. Stirling is open and welcoming and we are enriched by families like this.”