PESHAWAR: A provincial minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Saturday said that Nat Geo famed ‘Afghan Girl’ Sharbat Gula will not be deported from Pakistan.
Shaukat Yusufzai, while speaking to ARY News confirmed the news, and said that Gula will be allowed to live in the country. He said that the provincial government will not implement the order to deport her as a goodwill gesture.
He said that Home Department has instructed the Superintendent Jail not be hand her over to federal agencies after her jail term is complete. He said that the Home Department has the authority to stop her deportation.
The minister denied that Gula’s identity card not being revived, but rather she will be allowed to live in the country like other refugees until the completion of the state deadline, after which she would have to leave the country like other refugees.
He said that Gula is not in good health and is suffering from Hepatitis C and has lived her entire life here and so she has been granted permission to stay on humanitarian grounds.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan also voiced support for her and said that he had requested KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak not to deport Sharbat Gula.
The ‘green-eyed’ Gula was arrested on October 26 from her house in Noothia neighbourhood of Peshawar by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for possessing a fake Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC).
She was sentenced on Friday by a special anti-corruption court to 15 days imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 110,000. The United Nations High Commission had distanced itself from her stating that she was not a registered refugee.
Sharbat Gula will complete her 15-day sentence on Wednesday, after which she is expected to be deported.
The Afghan government has also called for handling her matter swiftly. Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal had said that Gula had helped improve the image of refugees around the world. He had blamed the NADRA officials for issuing the fake identity card and said that Gula was being unfairly targeted.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that Gula would be welcomed back in her country and he had promised to provide her a house there.
Steven McCurry, the photographer who had shot the iconic picture in 1984 which gave Gula worldwide fame after she was featured on the cover of National Geographic, also voiced concern for her.