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Afghan govt to take up 'Afghan Girl' Sharbat Gula's arrest with Pakistan

Expressing concern over the arrest of Nat Geo’s famed ‘Afghan Girl’ Sharbat Gula, the Afghan government has decided to take up the issue with Pakistani government, sources said Thursday.

An official at the Afghan Consulate in Peshawar told DawnNews the Afghan government will pursue the case in a Pakistani court and provide a lawyer and legal assistance to Gula, who is an Afghan national.

“She is an Afghan national and our embassy in Islamabad will take up the case with the Foreign Office for early release of Sharbat Gula,” he said, requesting not to be named.

Sharbat Gula in FIA custody.— Handout photo
Sharbat Gula in FIA custody.— Handout photo

Quoting family members, the official said Sharbat Bibi, who is in the custody of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), was not feeling well and they were also worried about her health.

Gula was arrested a day earlier from her Peshawar residence by FIA for alleged forgery of a Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC).

She faces seven to 14 years prison time and fine between $3,000 to $5,000 if convicted by court over fraud, a National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) official said Wednesday.

Last year, Nadra issued three CNICs to Gula and two men who claimed to be her sons. Issuance of CNICs were in violation of the rules and procedures of Nadra.

Nadra’s vigilance department and an FIA official rejected information provided on the Nadra form as fake, and the FIA official ordered cancellation of CNICs of Gula and her alleged sons.

Details of the form had claimed that Sharbat Gula had two sons. The official maintained that she has two daughters and a two-year-old son.

The official added that relatives present at the given address have refused to recognise two persons listed as her sons in the form.

‘Mona Lisa of Afghan war’

Sharbat Gula became famously known as the ‘Afghan Girl’ when National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry captured her photograph at the Nasir Bagh refugee camp situated on the edge of Peshawar in 1984 and identified her as Sharbat Gula.

She gained worldwide recognition when her image was featured on the cover of the June 1985 issue of National Geographic Magazine at a time when she was approximately 12 years old.

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’.

She remained anonymous for years after her first photo made her an icon around the world and until she was discovered by National Geographic in 2002.

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