PESHAWAR: Sharbat Gula – the Nat Geo famed ‘Afghan Girl’ – has been deported to Afghanistan via Torkhum border days after she was found deceptively obtaining a Pakistani Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC).
Four of her children have already been sent to Afghanistan.
Sharbat Gula, whose blazing green eyes were captured in an image taken in a Pakistan refugee camp in the 1980s that became the magazine’s most famous cover, was discharged from hospital where she was being treated for Hepatitis C and taken to the border overnight, officials said.
“We have deported Sharbat Gula to Afghanistan. She crossed the border to Afghanistan at around 2:30am. She was also accompanied by her four children,” Asmatullah Wazir, an administration official in the border town of Torkham said.
A second official, requesting anonymity, confirmed the move and said Gula, 45, was accompanied by officials from the Afghan embassy.
A special anti-corruption court last Friday had sent Sharbat Gula to 15 days imprisonment in prison with a fine after which she had to be deported.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) last month had arrested Sharbat Gula from the north-western city of Peshawar for forgery of a CNIC after the police registered a case against three persons of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) for allegedly issuing a CNIC to Gula on October 21 following which a search to find her was launched.
The news appeared last year when Pakistani officials confirmed that Sharbat Gula had applied for a Pakistani identity card in April 2014, using the name Sharbat Bibi.
Well-known photographer Steve McCurry took questionably the most iconic picture of all times in December 1984 at a refugee camp situated on the edge of Peshawar.
The image stared from the magazine cover of National Geographic in June 1985 and remained a mystery for the following 17 years.
For many, her photo has been close to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and so, National Geographic made a documentary on her life called the ‘Mona Lisa of Afghan war’.
McCurry later joined a crew from National Geographic Television & Film to find for her and hoped to see her alive again.
They showed her very photograph across the refugee camp in Pakistan where McCurry had captured her as a schoolgirl.
Sharbat Gula was discovered by National Geographic in 2002.
Fake CNIC holders
Pakistan launched a crackdown against those who have obtained fake CNICs fraudulently and launched a re-verification campaign across the country.
Officials say NADRA has so far re-verified some 91 million CNICs and detected 60,675 cards by non-nationals fraudulently.
According to a NADRA official, 2,473 foreigners, mostly Afghans, had voluntarily surrendered their CNICs which they obtained fraudulently.
Some 18 officials of the authority were under investigation for issuing CNICs to foreigners and eight were arrested, the official said.
Over 350,000 Afghan refugees have returned to their war-torn homeland from Pakistan this year, UN data shows, with the torrent of people crossing the border expected to continue.
Pakistan has for decades provided a safe haven for millions of Afghans who fled their country after the Soviet invasion of 1979.
Pakistan hosts 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, according to UNHCR figures from earlier this year, making it the third-largest refugee hosting nation in the world. A further one million unregistered refugees are estimated to be in the country.
Since 2009, Islamabad has repeatedly pushed back a deadline for them to return, but fears are growing that the latest cut-off date in March 2017 will be final.