Everyone remembers the ‘Afghan girl’ from National Geographic’s most famous cover
and her striking green eyes. News about her has resurfaced recently but it ain’t pretty.
Sharbat Gula, who is now in her 40s, has been arrested in Pakistan for obtaining fake IDs. Caught in her home in Peshawar, she could face up to 14 years of jail time or even deportation if convicted.
Image: New York Times
Gula’s case has brought to light an increasing pressure Afghan refugees are facing in Pakistan and the extreme measures they are willing to take to avoid returning to their war-torn homeland. There are currently 1.5 million Afghans seeking shelter in Pakistan and another million undocumented refugees. However, Pakistani authorities are beginning to crack down on these illegal foreigners in their country. According to Human Rights Watch, since 1 July, the nation has deported 370,000 Afghans although nearly 220,000 of them were registered refugees.
Gula was first photographed by Steve McCurry when she was 12 and her photo became world famous in the ‘80s, even though her identity was not known then. McCurry went on a quest to find her after the United States invaded Pakistan. He finally did in 2002 and managed to put a name to her face.
Image: The Independent
After hearing about Gula’s arrest, McCurry said that he is committed to give her financial and legal help. “I object to this action by the authorities in the strongest possible terms. She has suffered throughout her entire life. Her arrest is an egregious violation of her human rights,” he said in a statement.