Pak­istan de­ports Na­tional Geo­graphic’s ‘Afghan girl’

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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. –

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