NatGeo's famed 'Afghan girl' wants to be deported from Pakistan
Policemen escort Sharbat Gula (C), the green-eyed Afghan woman who became a symbol of her country’s wars 30 years ago when her photo as a girl appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine, as she leaves after appearing before a court in Peshawar, Pakistan, November 4, 2016. Reuters/Fayaz Aziz


Islamabad: NatGeo’s famed “Afghan Girl” Sharbat Gula on Tuesday refused to stay in Pakistan any more, turning down the provincial Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government’s offer to help stop her deportation, the media reported.

A special anti-corruption and immigration court had earlier ordered the deportation of Sharbat Gula, the green-eyed “Afghan Girl” whose 1985 National Geographic cover photo became a symbol of her country’s wars and uncertainty. The court held her guilty of illegally obtaining a Pakistani Computerised National Identity Card.

Sharbat Gula and the Afghan government, in an application submitted to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, pleaded for her departure from Pakistan to Afghanistan on completion of her 15-day sentence on Wednesday, Dawn reported.

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Better known the world over as the “Afghan Girl”, Gula pleaded guilty to six charges against her, including her illegal stay in Pakistan, forgery, cheating, tampering with documents and violation of Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority Act.

The provincial Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government decided to stop her deportation on Saturday on humanitarian grounds and as a goodwill gesture towards Afghanistan.

The portrait of Sharbat Gula, whose sea-green eyes and piercing gaze, made her an international symbol of refugees facing an uncertain future, first appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985.

Photographer Steve McCurry photographed her as a young girl living in the largest refugee camp in Pakistan, where almost three million Afghans sought shelter in the wake of the 1979 invasion by the Soviet Union. In 2002, McCurry tracked Sharbat Gula down, now married and mother of five, and photographed her again.

That photo has been likened with Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

National Geographic also made a short documentary about her life and dubbed her the “Mona Lisa of Afghan war”.