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I fear for my little Zira, trapped with the Taliban; North West grandmother prays that her grandchild is safe.

Byline: Gareth Hughes

AN ANXIOUS woman spoke last night of her fears for her seven-year-old granddaughter, who was abducted and sent to Afghanistan.

Sue McGarrigan, from Rhyl, is afraid to say too much about the plight of little Zira Pervaiz, in case she puts the girl in even greater danger.

But she said: "It's difficult to imagine anyone being prepared to put a young girl at such risk."

Zira is believed to be living among Taliban extremists in the mountains of Afghanistan which were last night under attack for a second night running.

She has been at the centre of an international tug-of-love for the last three years which has left her father, taxi driver Sajid Pervaiz, facing a fouryear prison sentence for abduction.

In 1993, Pervaiz married Vicky McGarrigan from Leigh, Greater Manchester, but they split up after three years when he admitted having an affair.

In October, 1998, he smuggled Zira abroad. On a weekend access visit, he promised to take the youngster to Disneyland in Paris but instead took her to Pakistan with one of his brothers.

In August this year, Pervaiz was jailed in his absence for four years for abduction but Vicky's efforts to have Zira returned ran into further problems when two of Pervaiz's brothers took her over the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan.

Vicky, who also has a 10-year-old son, is pregnant again and so was unable to travel to Pakistan for a court hearing last month. Her sister, Joanne, and her mother, Sue, made the journey instead.

A Pakistani judge ordered the brothers to take Zira to a court in Lahore, but in a statement read out by their lawyer allegedly said they did not accept the judgment of any court, recognising only the moral laws of Islam.

They said they had a fatwa ruling that Zira should stay with them in Afghanistan where they were preparing to fight.

The Taliban, they were reported as saying, were the only true guardians of Islam.

Joanne and Sue, 49, who has lived in Rhyl for the past three years, stayed in Pakistan for two weeks. They had taken with them supplies of Zira's favourite sweets as well as all the Christmas and birthday presents she had missed out on over the past three years.

They searched around the village of Gujranwalla, where Zira was known to have been living, and were shocked. The back alley where she had stayed was close to an open sewer.

Joanne, 26, took a huge risk by wearing traditional black dress and veil to wander through the streets in a vain search for her niece.

"All we can do at the moment is wait, but it is a terrible time, " said Sue, now back in her flat in Brighton Road.

Sue said the Foreign Office had done little to assist them.

CAPTION(S):

ABDUCTED: Zira Pervaiz WORRY: Father Sajid Pervaiz, left, and grandparents Sue and Steve McGarrigan, with great-grandmother Thelma
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 9, 2001
Words:491
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