The plane understood to be carrying a six-year-old girl who was abducted by her father and taken to Pakistan three years ago has arrived in the UK.

Atiya Anjum-Wilkinson vanished in November 2009 after going to stay with her father, Razwan Ali Anjum.

The former insurance salesman said he was taking Atiya to Southport.

Instead he took her to Lahore, Pakistan, and told Gemma Wilkinson - Atiya's mother - that she was "never going to see Atiya again". The child is now set for an emotional reunion with her mother, who police said "never gave up" the search for her little girl.

Earlier on Friday, Greater Manchester Police confirmed that Atiya had been located in Pakistan and was on her way home to the UK. It is understood the youngster was on a Pakistan International Airlines flight from Islamabad which has now touched down at Manchester Airport.

Anjum is currently serving a prison sentence in the UK for refusing to reveal his daughter's whereabouts despite a court order. Police published a computer-generated image of what Atiya might look like now a day before her sixth birthday in November.

Speaking ahead of her daughter's birthday, Ms Wilkinson said: "It's been an absolute nightmare. As to her whereabouts, we know nothing. We've had no contact. I'm worrying every day, every single day. Everything is affected by it. When I close my eyes I see her."

Ms Wilkinson's "on-off" relationship with Anjum ended in 2008. "He's not prepared to back down, he's not prepared to work with the police," she said at the time. "He's enjoying playing his controlling mind games. It's just sick."

Detective Superintendent Phil Owen, from Greater Manchester Police's Child Protection Unit, said: "Throughout the three years of her disappearance, her mother Gemma has understandably been sick with worry. She had not heard from her beloved daughter and did not know whether she would ever set eyes upon her again.

"However, Gemma, alongside ourselves and a variety of organisations, were determined we would not give up and remained dedicated to finding her. Thanks to this determination and the help from the Pakistani authorities, we have the outcome we were hoping for."