A Birmingham mum, locked in a notorious Pakistani prison with her baby, has revealed the precious nine-month-old is the only thing keeping her sane.
Khadija Shah, 25, from Small Heath, was forced to return to the unsanitary and cramped conditions of the Adiala Jail after giving birth to her daughter Malaika in October last year. Now they share a cell.
The mother-of-three faces death penalty after claims that she tried to smuggle £3.2 million of heroin into the UK in May 2012.
But despite being fearful that her baby could be struck down with any number of diseases reported to be rife in the prison, scene of a major tuberculosis outbreak last year, she is desperate to keep her close by.
“If Malaika was not here, I would be crazy because things are very hard,” Khadija reportedly said. “She keeps me strong,” she was quoted by UK newspaper Daily Mail as saying on Wednesday.
A spokesman for human rights charity Reprieve said there had been “no further movement” in getting Khadija to trial, confirming an uncertain future for her and the baby. They blamed the plodding pace of Pakistan’s legal system.
“I am still breastfeeding,” Khadijah was reported as saying.
“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.”
Speaking last year, Khadija said her daughter was being repeatedly bitten by mosquitoes, had developed severe diarrhoea and had not received inoculations.
Her older children, Ibrahim, six, and Aleesha, five, were flown back to the West Midlands after originally being locked in the prison with their mum.
Khadija, who has not seen them for over a year now, said she spoke to them on the phone every two to three days. “They miss me, but never ask me where I am,” she reportedly said.
“I ignore things. I ignore what’s happening to me.”
She was arrested at IslamabadAirport last May.
She has always protested her innocence, claiming that she agreed to transport suitcases as a favour for men she had only recently met, and said that she had no idea what was inside.