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Pakistan Deports National Geographic’s Iconic “Afghan Girl”

Pakistan Deports National Geographic’s Iconic “Afghan Girl”Pakistan Deports National Geographic’s Iconic “Afghan Girl”

Pakistan on Wednesday deported National Geographic’s famed green-eyed “Afghan Girl” to her native Afghanistan after a regional court had convicted her on charges of carrying a forged Pakistani ID card and staying in the country illegally.

The case of Sharbat Gulla has drawn international attention and criticism of Pakistani authorities over their perceived harsh treatment of the iconic refugee.

Gulla and her four children were handed over to Afghan authorities at the Torkham border crossing, about 60 kilometers northwest of the Pakistani city of Peshawar, before dawn on Wednesday, AP reported.

Earlier, a visibly unhappy Gulla, clad in a blue, all-encompassing traditional women’s burqa and her children were taken from Peshawar to the border in a convoy, which included several Afghan officials, said a local government administrator, Fayaz Khan.

At the crossing, Gulla turned once to look back at Pakistani territory and softly murmured good wishes for the people of Pakistan—her home of many years, according to two customs officials at the scene.

The officials spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Gulla was arrested in late October on charges of carrying fake Pakistani ID papers and staying in Pakistan illegally. A Peshawar court later ordered her deportation.

She gained international fame in 1984 as an Afghan refugee girl, after war photographer Steve McCurry’s photograph of her, with piercing green eyes, was published on National Geographic’s cover.

McCurry found her again in 2002. In 2014, she went into hiding after authorities accused her of buying fake Pakistani documents.

Khan, the local official, said Gulla was to be flown to the Afghan capital of Kabul later in the day, where she was to attend a function in her honor hosted by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

 

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