National Geographic cover star to be freed on bail

National Geographic cover star to be freed on bail


An Afghan woman immortalised on the cover of National Geographic magazine is to be freed on bail, days after she was arrested in Pakistan on fraud charges, reports BBC.
Sharbat Gula, whose haunting green eyes made her famous as a child refugee, is accused of procuring fake identity papers.
“I think I will have to review this case because she is a woman and we should see it from a humanitarian angle,” Pakistan’s interior minister said.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the country’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) should arrange bail as soon as possible.
However, he added: “If we withdraw charges against her, deport her, or give her a temporary visa to leave Pakistan, then we will have to take back cases against the officials who issued her fake ID card. They are the real culprits, and I do not want to let them off the hook in any manner.”
Pakistan recently launched a crackdown against fake IDs, and Mrs Gula was arrested after a two-year probe in Peshawar, near the Afghan border.
She now faces a fine and up to 14 years in jail.
Mrs Gula allegedly applied for an identity card in April 2014, using the name Sharbat Bibi. If the fraud claims are true, she is one of thousands of Afghan refugees deploying desperate measures to avoid returning to their war-torn homeland.
The celebrated “Afghan girl” picture was taken by photographer Steve McCurry in 1984 in a refugee camp in north-west Pakistan, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. It led to one of the most recognisable magazine covers ever printed.
After hearing of Mrs Gula’s arrest, Mr McCurry posted the iconic picture on Instagram and wrote: “Two hours ago, I got word from a friend in Peshawar, Pakistan, that Sharbat Gula has been arrested. We are doing everything we can to get the facts by contacting our colleagues and friends in the area.
“I am committed to doing anything and everything possible to provide legal and financial support for her and her family.”
Recent UN figures show that Pakistan hosts 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees. A further one million unregistered refugees are believed to be in the country. -UNB


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