Islamabad, Nov 6: National Geographic’s famed “Afghan Girl” Sharbat Gula will not be deported from Pakistan, a Pakistani government official Shaukat Yousafzai has said, it was reported on Sunday. The Afghan woman known worldwide for her iconic portrait on the cover of National Geographic was arrested by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency on October 26 from her house in the Nauthia area for “forgery” of a Computerised National Identity Card. A day after her arrest, the United Nations High Commissioner distanced itself from her, claiming that she was not a registered refugee, Dawn reported. On Friday a special anti-corruption and immigration court in Peshawar ordered the deportation of Sharbat Gula after she serves a 15-day jail sentence and pays a fine of Pakistani Rs 1,10,000. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s home department, following the decision, has also stopped implementation of the decision to deport her to Afghanistan.
The portrait of Sharbat Gula, whose piercing, sea-green eyes, made her an international symbol of refugees, first appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985. Photographer Steve McCurry photographed her as a young girl living in the largest refugee camp in Pakistan, where almost three million Afghans sought shelter in the wake of the 1979 invasion by the Soviet Union. In 2002, McCurry tracked Sharbat Gula down and photographed her again.
That photo has been likened with Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. National Geographic also made a short documentary about her life and dubbed her the “Mona Lisa of Afghan war”.