Cyprus Mail

Pakistan to deport ‘Afghan Girl’ from famed National Geographic photo

Sharbat Gula

A Pakistani judge on Friday ordered the deportation of Sharbat Gula, the green-eyed “Afghan Girl” whose 1985 photo in National Geographic became a symbol of her country’s wars, after finding her guilty of illegally obtaining a Pakistani identity card.

Gula, now in her 40s, was also sentenced to 15 days in jail and fined about 100,000 rupees ($955.11)

She had been living in northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar for years with her husband and children. Her family has said her husband died a few years ago.

Gula is likely to be freed in three days, as she has already spent more than 10 days in prison since her arrest last week, said Afghan consulate official Abdul Hameed Jalili.

“On the coming Monday, she will be deported,” Jalili said. “The government and the people of Afghanistan await Sharbat Gula with great emotion, and will welcome her very warmly.”

Judge Farah Jamshed of an anti-corruption and immigration court in Peshawar convicted Gula under the Foreign Act, a copy of the ruling showed.

Gula has been in custody since her arrest on Wednesday last week on accusations of using a forged Pakistani identity card.

She had recently been shifted to a hospital to treat a fever and high blood pressure, said Dr Ghulam Subhani, medical superintendent of the city’s Lady Reading Hospital, where her family have visited her.

She appeared in court on Friday for the verdict, however.

Gula was for years the face of Afghanistan’s suffering, after National Geographic published the image of the young refugee, her defiant, pained eyes staring out from an unsmiling face, framed by a shawl over her head.

Her legal case comes amid Pakistani pressure to send home 2.5 million Afghan refugees, even though Afghanistan faces a bloody Taliban insurgency and would struggle to look after them.

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