Pak may free Nat Geo’s iconic Afghan girl on bail
An Afghan girl immortalised on the cover of National Geographic magazine in the 1980s and arrested last week in Peshawar on fraud charges may soon be freed on humanitarian grounds, Pakistan’s Interior Minister has indicated.
The haunting photo of a green-eyed, Afghan girl named Sharbat Gula, taken in a refugee camp in Pakistan in 1984, was one of National Geographic magazine’s most famous covers.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday indicated that she might be granted bail. “I think I will have to review this case because she is a woman and we should see it from a humanitarian angle,” Khan said. She faces up to 14 years in jail.
Khan said Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) should arrange bail as soon as possible. However, he added: “If we withdraw charges against her, deport her, or give her a temporary visa to leave Pakistan, then we will have to take back cases against the officials who issued her fake ID card. They are the real culprits, and I do not want to let them off the hook in any manner.”
Gula’s bail hearing is due to take place on Tuesday.