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#Justice?: Birmingham mother jailed for life in Pakistan for drug smuggling

A British-Pakistani mother from Birmingham has been sentenced to life in an infamous Pakistani prison for drug smuggling.
Khadija Shah, 26, was arrested at Islamabad airport in May 2012 while heavily pregnant. 

Police officials said they had found some 63 kilograms of heroin in her luggage and jailed her pending trial, along with her two young children.

Her daughter Malaika was born in October 2012 in the remand prison she was held in.

Ms Shah has consistently denied knowing about the drugs, which had a street value of more than £3 million, and claimed that she had agreed to transport the suitcases as a favour for a friend.

While her two elder children have returned to the UK, Ms Shah and her youngest daughter have been held at the notorious Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.

The British legal charity Reprieve has challenged the government to re-evaluate the millions given by the UK to Pakistan to fight drug trafficking in lieu of the severe penalties handed down to non-violent drugs offences.

Maya Foa, director of Reprieve’s Death Penalty team, said: “In light of the excessively harsh sentences Pakistan hands down to vulnerable, exploited women such as Khadija, it seems hard to justify the millions in aid Britain has contributed to the country’s counter-narcotics operations.

“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.”

Born and raised in the Salem Heath area of Birmingham, Ms Shah had only visited Pakistan on a handful of occasions.

Prosecutors had originally called for the death sentence given the amount of drugs trafficked but capital punishment in Pakistan has been under an unofficial suspension since 2008.

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