The famous green-eyed ‘Afghan girl’ has appeared in court in Peshawar, accused of having a fake Pakistani identity card.
Sharbat Gulla shot to international fame in 1984 when a photo of her, as a refugee girl, made the cover of National Geographic.
According to CNN, she can face up to 14 years in jail or deportation if found guilty. Gula was previously arrested just last year but was released.
This ordeal is common among many Afghan refugees who have been fleeing and living in strife, like Gula, since 1985. Many refugees have made their way to Pakistan with about 1.5 million having a “proof of registration” card, which protects them from deportation, another 1 million who do not have these cards have resorted to forging them, like Gula has.
Since May, Pakistan has gotten stricter on its crackdown of illegal refugees, when former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour was killed and found in a drone strike in Baluchistan Province.
McCurry, the original photographer, tells the New York Times, “I am committed to doing anything and everything possible to provide legal and financial support for her and her family. She has suffered throughout her entire life, and we believe that her arrest is an egregious violation of her human rights.”
McCurry went to the mountains of Afghanistan in 2002, in search of Gula, who was not identified in 1985 at the refugee camp she was staying in. She eventually found her, and discovered that she was of the Pashtun ethnic group who made their home in the mountains of Tora Bora, and they had a short reunion. She agreed to a second photograph by McCurry but only because her husband recommended that it would be proper.
National Geographic published a new article about her, reading, “Time and hardship had erased her youth. Her skin looks like leather. The geometry of her jaw has softened. The eyes still glare; that has not softened.”