Millennium Post

Pak to deport Nat Geo’s Afghan Girl

A Pakistani court on Friday ordered the deportation of Sharbat Gula, National Geographic’s iconic green-eyed ‘Afghan Girl’, back to her war-torn homeland for using fake ID cards to stay in this city.

Gula, who was immortalised, after her haunting picture taken at a refugee camp in Pakistan in 1985 was carried by the magazine on its cover, was arrested last week from her home here and faces deportation as early as Monday.

A special anti-corruption and immigration court in Peshawar ordered Gula’s deportation to Afghanistan, after serving a 15-day jail sentence besides slapping a fine of 1,10,000 rupees ($1,100).

Gula, who was dubbed as ‘Mona Lisa of the Afghan war’, was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on October 26 from Peshawar for alleged forgery of a Pakistani Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC).

The court issued the verdict, after the accused pleaded guilty to the charges, Gula’s lawyer Mubashir Khan said. “She has already served about nine days in jail and will remain imprisoned for six more days to complete her sentence,” he said. The fine was also paid so she will be deported from Pakistan at the end of her sentence, he added.

Gula, now in her 40s, was being deported under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act 1946.

Following the court’s verdict, Afghan ambassador Omar Zakhilwal said: “With utmost delight, I announce that Sharbat Gula is now free from the legal troubles she endured over the past couple of weeks. She will soon be free from an uncertain life of a refugee as she will be on her way back to her own country as soon as next Monday where she still is a beloved image and a national icon.” 

Zakhilwal said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will meet Gula upon her arrival to welcome her back home and help her with her resettlement. The Ambassador also thanked all those who voiced their support and sympathy to Gula’s case, saying “you all played a significant role resulting in today’s good news.” 

The court was informed during the hearing that Gula was a widow and the sole bread-winner of family. She was also suffering from Hepatitis C. The United Nations High Commissioner distanced itself from Gula, claiming that she was not a registered refugee.
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