Pak­istan to free Na­tional Ge­o­graphic ‘Afghan girl’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

An Afghan wo­man im­mor­tal­ized on a Na­tional Ge­o­graphic mag­a­zine cover is to be freed on bail days af­ter be­ing ar­rested in Pak­istan for fraud, a govern­ment min­is­ter said yes­ter­day. The haunt­ing im­age of Shar­bat Gula, taken in a Pak­istan refugee camp by pho­tog­ra­pher Steve McCurry in the 1980s, be­came the most famous cover im­age in the mag­a­zine’s his­tory. Pak­istan’s Fed­eral In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (FIA) ar­rested Gula on Wed­nes­day for liv­ing in the coun­try on fraud­u­lent iden­tity pa­pers fol­low­ing a two-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion on her and her hus­band, who has ab­sconded.

“I think I will have to re­view this case be­cause she is a wo­man and we should see it from a hu­man­i­tar­ian an­gle,” Pak­istan In­te­rior Min­is­ter Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day. “But 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 real cul­prits and I do not want to let them off the hook in any man­ner,” he said. “As a first step the FIA should ar­range her bail as soon as pos­si­ble so that she should get of jail,” Khan added.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors, who have un­cov­ered thou­sands of fraud cases over the last decade, launched a probe into her ap­pli­ca­tion shortly af­ter she pro­cured the iden­tity card. Of­fi­cials say she ap­plied for a Pak­istani iden­tity card in Pe­shawar in April 2014, us­ing the name Shar­bat Bibi. The photo at­tached to her ap­pli­ca­tion fea­tured the same pierc­ing green eyes seen in McCurry’s famous im­age, only older.

Of­fi­cials say the Na­tional Data­base Reg­is­tra­tion Author­ity (NADRA) has so far re-ver­i­fied 91 mil­lion ID cards and de­tected 60,675 fraud­u­lent cards. Her ar­rest high­lights the des­per­ate mea­sures many Afghans are willing to take to avoid re­turn­ing to their war-torn home­land as Pak­istan cracks down on un­doc­u­mented for­eign­ers.

Pak­istan has for decades pro­vided safe haven for mil­lions of Afghans who fled their coun­try af­ter the Soviet in­va­sion of 1979. The coun­try hosts 1.4 mil­lion reg­is­tered Afghan refugees, ac­cord­ing to UNHCR, mak­ing it the third-largest refugee host­ing na­tion in the world. The agency also es­ti­mates a fur­ther one mil­lion un­reg­is­tered refugees are in the coun­try. — AFP

Shar­bat Gula

IS­TAN­BUL: Sup­port­ers of the pro-Kur­dish Peo­ples’ Democ­racy Party (HDP) flash vic­tory signs dur­ing a demon­stra­tion on Oc­to­ber 30, 2016 in Is­tan­bul, fol­low­ing the ar­rests of the two co-may­ors in Diyarbakir. The two co-may­ors of Diyarbakir, the big­gest Kur­dish-ma­jor­ity city in south­east Turkey, were ar­rested as part of a “ter­ror­ism” probe. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.