Pak­istan de­ports Na­tional Geo­graphic’s iconic ‘Afghan Girl’

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Pak­istan on Wed­nes­day de­ported Na­tional Geo­graphic’s famed green-eyed “Afghan Girl” to her na­tive Afghanistan af­ter a re­gional court had con­victed her on charges of car­ry­ing a forged Pak­istani ID card and stay­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally.

The case of Shar­bat Gulla has drawn in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion and crit­i­cism of Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties over their per­ceived harsh treat­ment of the iconic refugee.

Gulla and her four chil­dren were handed over to Afghan au­thor­i­ties at the Torkham bor­der cross­ing, about 60 kilo­me­ters (37 miles) north­west of the Pak­istani city of Pe­shawar, be­fore dawn Wed­nes­day.

Ear­lier, a vis­i­bly un­happy Gulla, clad in a blue, all-en­com­pass­ing tra­di­tional women’s burqa, and her chil­dren were taken from Pe­shawar to the bor­der in a con­voy, which in­cluded sev­eral Afghan of­fi­cials, said a lo­cal gov­ern­ment ad­min­is­tra­tor Fayaz Khan.

At the cross­ing, Gulla turned once to look back at Pak­istani ter­ri­tory and softly mur­mured good wishes for the peo­ple of Pak­istan — her home of many years, ac­cord­ing to two cus­toms of­fi­cials at the scene. The of­fi­cials spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to talk to the me­dia.

Gulla was arrested in late Oc­to­ber on charges of car­ry­ing fake

Pak­istani ID pa­pers and stay­ing in Pak­istan il­le­gally. A Pe­shawar court later or­dered her de­ported.

She gained in­ter­na­tional fame in 1984 as an Afghan refugee girl, af­ter war pho­tog­ra­pher Steve McCurry’s pho­to­graph of her, with pierc­ing green eyes, was pub­lished on Na­tional Geo­graphic’s cover.

McCurry found her again in 2002. In 2014, she went into hid­ing af­ter au­thor­i­ties ac­cused her of buy­ing fake Pak­istani doc­u­ments.

Khan, the lo­cal of­fi­cial, said Gulla was to be flown to the Afghan cap­i­tal of Kabul later in the day, where she was to at­tend a func­tion in her honor hosted by Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani.

Ghani’s of­fice did not im­me­di­ately con­firm that event was planned.

Pe­shawar pro­vin­cial au­thor­i­ties had re­port­edly tried to find a le­gal way for Gulla to stay in the coun­try on hu­man­i­tar­ian grounds, but she de­clined the of­fer, ac­cord­ing to Khan.

Af­ter the Pe­shawar court sen­tenced her to 15 days in jail and a fine of $1,000, she fell ill and was ad­mit­ted to at Pe­shawar’s Lady Read­ing hos­pi­tal.

On Wed­nes­day, the hos­pi­tal staff pre­sented Gulla a bou­quet of red roses be­fore bid­ding her farewell, said Dr Mukhtiar Za­man. He de­scribed Gulla as still be­ing weak from her ill­ness.

Photo: AP

An ac­tress dressed in a pe­riod cos­tume walks through the snow in St. Peters­burg, Rus­sia on Tues­day. Low tem­per­a­tures caused two days of snow­fall in St. Peters­burg.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.