A Bradford dad-of-four kidnapped in Pakistan and freed after his family paid a £15,000 ransom has been brutally slain by masked gunmen after he bravely returned there to give evidence against his alleged abductors.
Malik Iqbal, 55 was shot in the head in front of female relatives by two balaclava-wearing assassins who burst into the house in Rawalpindi where he was staying in the early hours of yesterday.
His nephew, who had travelled with him, only escaped the slaughter because he was collecting dry-cleaning from a nearby shop.
Mr Iqbal had left his wife Rukhasana at home in Cutler Heights with their four school-age daughters and courageously flew to Pakistan at the end of August for what was to be a four-week trial.
Aware of the danger in making that trip, high-principled Mr Iqbal told friends: “Justice has to be done.”
He was murdered almost exactly a year after being freed from the horrific kidnap during which he was blindfolded, chained to a bed and starved for 19 days.
Good friend and former Bradford councillor Riaz Ahmed told the Telegraph & Argus what happened: “He was a strong, defiant man and this is an absolute tragedy for his family and everyone,” said shocked Mr Riaz, just hours after the shooting.
“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,” Mr Ahmed said.
He added he did not know how much evidence Mr Iqbal had already given, but said he would have been made to stay in case of the need for cross-questioning.
Speaking about the danger Mr Iqbal was prepared to face, Mr Ahmed said: “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.
“A very kind and caring man, he will be badly missed by everyone who knew him,” said Mr Ahmed, who had known Mr Iqbal for some six years, but became friends while helping him recover from the horror of his kidnapping.
Mr Ahmed said that family and friends were all in a state of shock, but Mr Iqbal’s wife was flying out to Pakistan today to handle the funeral arrangements which would take place over there.
After the Telegraph & Argus broke the news of Mr Iqbal’s murder to the Foreign Office in London, a spokesman later confirmed officials were aware of the shooting of a British national in Pakistan, but could not confirm any identity at this stage.
“Staff at the British Consulate in Pakistan are very concerned and are investigating this matter and the Foreign Office will do all it can to support any family members,” the spokesman said.