EAST Lancashire MEP Sajjad Karim has told how he helped Greater Manchester Police return six-year-old Atiya Anjum Wilkinson to her mum.

Atiya was snatched by her father and taken to Pakistan against her mother's wishes over three years ago, at the age of three.

But on Friday she was reunited with her mum, Gemma Wilkinson, after being found by the authorities in Pakistan living with extended family in the Punjab region.

Simonstone-based Mr Karim, a former Pendle Councillor, has been assisting Greater Manchester Police and working with Pakistani officials to identify Atiya's whereabouts.

In November he raised the matter with the Pakistani Foreign Minister in the European Parliament.

He said: “I was delighted to be able to assist GMP to bring this case to a satisfactory fruition.

“Two Greater Manchester Police officers have provided continued support for this case for over three years but the real credit goes to Atiya's mum, Gemma, who never gave up.

“I am also very grateful to the Pakistani authorities who did the work on the ground to locate Atiya.

“Whilst we are all overjoyed at Atiya's safe return to the UK and although her uncle escorted her back home, we must remember that this Rochdale based family have cruelly refused to give the police any information, putting Gemma, her mother Lois and their family though three years of torture with several false alarms and raised hopes when the Anjums said Atiya would be brought home and wasn't.

"Had this additional pressure by the police, Pakistani officials and myself not been placed on the family, particularly in Pakistan, I have no doubt we would not have Atiya home today.”

Atiya's father Razwan Ali Anjum is serving a prison sentence for refusing to reveal his daughter's whereabouts.