British toddler Sahil Saeed's ordeal exposes growth of Pak kidnap 'trade'

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London, Mar. 22 (ANI): The ordeal of five-year-old British toddler Sahil Saeed, who was kidnapped at gunpoint from his grandmother's house in Pakistan earlier this month, has exposed the lack of security for visitors and the growth of the kidnap trade in the country.

Over 400,000 Pakistanis, who travel to their homeland every year to visit relatives, attend weddings and see their ancestral villages, are now coming to the realization of how unsafe their visit can become.

Apart from the violent threat of terrorism, the kidnap 'trade' - the increasing possibility of a family being identified as targets for kidnapping gangs- has become a major cause of worry.

According to the Times, 25 international kidnappings of Britons were reported to the UK law enforcement agency, Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), last year, of which 19 occurred in Pakistan.

The figure is almost double that of 2008, when ten abductions were notified to SOCA.

"The victims are British nationals or Britons with dual nationality who are, more often than not, going back to their roots," The Times quoted a source, as saying.

"They are unfamiliar with their surroundings, they might never have been there before, or perhaps not for 20 years. But they are perceived, because they come from the UK, as having money," he added.

Meanwhile, Richard Scurrell, divisional director of Special Contingency Risks, which specializes in kidnap insurance, said that countries that did not previously have an endemic kidnap problem are developing one.

"We are seeing a growing problem in countries where five or six years ago there wasn't a problem, such as Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan," Scurrell said.

Sahil was released 14 days after he was kidnapped on March 4 following his family reportedly paying a ransom of 110,000 pounds to the members of the kidnapping gang in Paris.

Investigation into the kidnapping case suggests that the abduction was co-ordinated, and possibly even conceived, by someone in Britain who was familiar with Sahil's family. (ANI)

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