Pak­istan de­ports ‘green-eyed girl’ Shar­bat Gula

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Obituary/worldwide -

PAK­ISTAN has de­ported Shar­bat Gula, the “greeneyed Afghan girl” in the renowned 1985 Na­tional Geo­graphic photo, for us­ing fraud­u­lent iden­tity doc­u­ments, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials.

Po­lice es­corted Gula on Tues­day from a Pe­shawar hos­pi­tal, where she had been stay­ing since her ar­rest last month for liv­ing il­le­gally in Pak­istan.

Gula, who had be­come the sym­bol of her coun­try’s wars, was handed over to Afghan au­thor­i­ties at the Torkham bor­der.

Gula’s de­por­ta­tion comes amid Pak­istani pres­sure to send 2.5 mil­lion Afghan refugees back home even though Afghanistan is facing a strug­gle with Tal­iban fight­ers in the coun­try.

“We took Shar­bat Gula from the hos­pi­tal in a con­voy and de­liv­ered her to the Afghan bor­der au­thor­i­ties at Torkham,” said a se­nior Pak­istani se­cu­rity of­fi­cial said.

Speak­ing to the AFP news agency last week, Gula said she was “heart­bro­ken” at the prospect of re­turn­ing.

“Afghanistan is only my birth­place, but Pak­istan was my home­land and I al­ways con­sid­ered it as my own coun­try,” she said.

“I had de­cided to live and die in Pak­istan but they did the worst thing with me. It’s not my fault that I born there [in Afghanistan]. I am de­jected. I have no other op­tion but to leave.”

Gula said she 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.

She is ex­pected to be flown back to Kabul later on Wed­nes­day, where Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani would host a func­tion in her hon­our and her four chil­dren are ex­pected to fol­low her shortly.

Pub­lic bill­boards were al­ready up wel­com­ing her back home.

Gula was for years an un­named celebrity af­ter an im­age of her as a teenage Afghan refugee was fea­tured on Na­tional Geo­graphic mag­a­zine’s cover in 1985, her strik­ing green eyes peer­ing out from a head­scarf with a mix­ture of fe­roc­ity and pain.

The im­age be­came a sym­bol of Afghanistan’s suf­fer­ing dur­ing the 1980s Soviet oc­cu­pa­tion and US-backed armed strug­gle against it.

The Soviet with­drawal in 1989 led to the col­lapse of the Kabul gov­ern­ment and years of civil war un­til the Tal­iban move­ment seized power in the mid-1990s.

Af­ter the Tal­iban gov­ern­ment fell to the US-backed mil­i­tary ac­tion in 2001, Na­tional Geo­graphic sent pho­tog­ra­pher Steve McCurry to find the girl in the photo, even­tu­ally iden­ti­fied as Gula. — AFP

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