Nat Geo’s iconic green-eyed girl repatriated to Afghanistan
PESHAWAR (92 News) – Sharbat Gula, the National Geographic’s iconic green-eyed ‘Afghan Girl’, has been repatriated to Afghanistan on Wednesday.
A special anti-corruption and immigration court in Peshawar ordered Gula’s deportation to Afghanistan after serving a 15-day jail sentence besides slapping a fine of 1,10,000 rupees (USD 1,100).
The authorities had arrested the famous green-eyed “Afghan girl” immortalized on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985 for living in the country with forged identity papers.
Sharbat Gula was arrested with two men, reportedly her sons, and has been deported to Afghanistan.
Police escorted Gula overnight from a Lady Reading Hospital, where she had been staying since her arrest last month for living illegally in Pakistan, and 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 bloody Taliban insurgency and would struggle to look after so many returnees.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan requested KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to not deport Sharbat Gula.
During her transfer back to Afghanistan, Gula, wearing a green burqa, was heard praying for Pakistan, its people and everyone who helped her and her family during their stay in the country.
Gula rose to fame when her haunting close-up image was captured by photographer Steve McCurry and published in the National Geographic magazine. It became one of the most famous cover images in the publication’s history. The image became a symbol of Afghanistan’s suffering during the 1980s Soviet occupation and US-backed mujahadeen insurgency against it.
The Soviet withdrawal in 1989 led to the collapse of the Kabul government and years of civil war until the Islamist Taliban movement seized power in the mid-1990s. After the Taliban regime 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.