Pakistan deports National Geographic’s ‘Afghan girl’
AN Afghan woman immortalised on a National Geographic cover was deported by Pakistani officials early yesterday to her war-torn homeland following a brief period of detention for using fraudulent identity papers.
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 was 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 Ms Gula, 45, was accompanied by officials from the Afghan embassy.
“Afghanistan is only my birthplace, but Pakistan was my homeland and I always considered it as my own country,” she said last week.
Ms Gula first arrived in Pakistan an orphan, some four or five years after the Soviet invasion of 1979, one of millions of Afghans who have sought refuge over the border since.
Since July hundreds of thousands have returned to Afghanistan in a desperate exodus amid fears of a crackdown, ahead of a March 2017 deadline for the final return of all Afghan refugees. –