A British man who was kidnapped in Pakistan, and only freed when his family paid a £15,000 ransom, has been murdered after returning to the country to give evidence against his former captors.
Malik Muhammad Iqbal, aged 55, was shot by up to three balaclava-wearing men on Friday, who burst into the home of relatives in Rawalpindi where he was staying, a year after his kidnap ordeal ended.
Iqbal, a father-of-four from Bradford, had agreed to return to Pakistan for the four-week trial of the men who seized him, apparently aware that he was putting himself at risk by returning to give evidence. According to Pakistani media, Iqbal was gunned down while staying at a relative’s home on Rawalpindi’s Chakri Road and died on the way to hospital.
During his kidnapping last year, Iqbal was blindfolded, chained and starved for almost three weeks before his family paid a ransom for his release.
Speaking to the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, as news of the murder broke, friend and former councillor Riaz Ahmed said: “He was a strong, defiant man, and this is an absolute tragedy for his family and everyone.
“He flew out to Rawalpindi at the back end of August and the court case was due to last four weeks.
“But he was badly let down by the authorities, the case was held up, and he had to stay later and delay his return home.”
Ahmed added: “He was very aware of the potential risk to himself, but he was a very strong-minded man and wanted justice to take place. He was defiant, he knew there would be problems, but he had high principles he couldn’t ignore.
“Before he left he told me ‘justice has to be done to prevent this happening to anyone else’.”
After being released last year, Iqbal described how he had been snatched while visiting his family in Rawalpindi and kept chained in a shed on a farm for 20 days, surviving on the occasional tea and biscuits his kidnappers provided.
Iqbal, who was originally from Kenya but moved to Bradford in 1968, was kidnapped on 4 September last year, two days before he had planned to return home, after giving a female friend of a relative a lift to an area close to Islamabad airport. When they arrived at their destination, Iqbal said he was ambushed by five men and a gun was put to his head. During his ordeal a kidnapper stayed with him at all times. His family, local farmers, were forced to sell some of their livestock to scrape together the ransom money.
In the immediate aftermath of his release, Iqbal had vowed: “I will never go back. It’s too frightening,” adding: “I didn’t think I would come out alive.” He told the BBC in an interview last September he believed that as a British citizen he was seen as wealthy and a “good target”.
Confirming his death, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We can confirm the death of a British national in Pakistan. We are providing consular assistance.”
Posted by Theodore Shoebat