Sharbat Gula became the face of refugee plight when she was featured on the cover of ‘National Geographic’ as a child. Her struggles are far from over. USA TODAY NETWORK
National Geographic’s iconic, green-eyed Afghan Girl was arrested Wednesday at her home in Peshawar, Pakistan, on charges she possessed a forged national identification card, authorities said.
Green eye Gril
Shahid Ilyas, an official of the Federal Investigation Agency’s National Database Registration Authority, told AFP that Sharbat Gula was arrested following a two-year investigation and could face up to 14 years in prison.
Pakistan, and particularly the Peshawar area along the Afghan border, has been home to more than a million Afghans fleeing decades of war. Pakistan has been cracking down on fake national identification cards and has launched a verification program across the nation.
Sharbat Gulla, the iconic “Afghan Girl” whose photo appeared in “National Geographic” in 1985, waits for a court hearing in Peshawar, Pakistan. (Photo: Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency via AFP/Getty Images)
Gula was about 12 years old in 1984 when war photographer Steve McCurry shot her haunting portrait Afghan Girl, which appeared on the cover of the internationally renowned magazine’s June 1985 edition. Gula’s parents were killed in Russia’s war with Afghanistan, and the young Gula walked with her grandmother and four siblings across the mountains to Pakistan’s Nasir Bagh refugee camp.
The photo became a symbol of the plight of refugees. After the 9/11 terror attacks it resurfaced as a promotional tool in the Bush administration’s effort to draw support for a war against the Taliban.
In 2002, McCurry tracked green eye girl Gula down to a remote Afghan village, where she was married to a baker and had three daughters. A traditional Muslim, she was not allowed to meet men outside her family. The magazine said it was given permission to send a female associate producer to meet Gula and take another photo.