The iconic green-eyed Afghan girl made famous by the National Geographic has been arrested in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Wednesday for carrying false identity papers, reports the AFP. She faces a 14-year maximum jail term and a fine if convicted.
The girl, Sharbat Gula, then just 12, was photographed by Steve McCurry at a refugee camp in Pakistan and caught the eyes of the world when her face appeared on the cover of the magazine.
“FIA arrested Sharbat Gula, an Afghan woman, today for obtaining a fake ID card,” Shahid Ilyas, an official of the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA), told AFP.
The arrest was the result of a two-year long investigation by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) into issuance of fake identity cards to Afghan refugees seeking residency in Pakistan.
Gula applied for a Pakistani identity card in Peshawar in April 2014 under the name of Sharbat Bibi, reports AFP
Millions of Afghans moved to Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the exodus continued well into the next century.
According to the latest United Nations figures, Pakistan is home to 1.4 million Afghan refugees (registered ones), which makes it the third-largest refugee hosting nation in the world.
Pakistan authorities are doubling up their verification efforts to weed out fake identity seekers and send back as many Afghan refugees as possible.
NADRA has so far reverified 91 million ID cards and detected 60,675 fraudulent cards, according to AFP.
Steve McCurry tracked down the girl in the photograph in 2002, almost 17 years after he first photographed her. She was married and a mother of three children then.