Pakistan sentences 'Afghan girl' from famous photo to jail, deportation over forged identity card

Afghan refugee woman, Sharbat Gula (center), also known as the 'Afghan Girl' who appeared on the cover of a 1985 edition of National Geographic magazine, leaves the court in Peshawar on Nov 4, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (REUTERS) - A Pakistani judge on Friday (Nov 4) ordered the deportation of Ms Sharbat Gula, the green-eyed"Afghan Girl" whose 1985 photo in National Geographic became a symbol of her country's wars, after finding her guilty of illegally obtaining a Pakistani identity card.

Ms Gula, now in her 40s, also was sentenced to 15 days in jail and fined 100,000 rupees (S$1,322.35).

She had been living in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar for years with her husband and children. Her family has said her Pakistani husband died a few years ago.

It was not immediately clear when Gula would be freed or deported, as she has already spent 10 days in jail, said an official at the Afghan consulate in Peshawar.

"She may spend five or four more days in Pakistan as a prisoner, but we had made a special request to the Pakistani authorities to allow her to return Afghanistan either today, Friday, or Saturday," he said on condition of anonymity.

Judge Farah Jamshed of an anti-corruption and immigration court in Peshawar convicted Ms Gula under the Foreign Act.

She has been in custody since her arrest on Wednesday (Oct 2) last week on accusations she was using a forged Pakistani identity card.

She was recently shifted to a hospital with a fever and high blood pressure, said Dr Ghulam Subhani, medical superintendent of the city's Lady Reading Hospital, where her family have visited her.

She did not appear in court on Friday for the verdict.

Ms Gula was for years the face of Afghanistan's suffering, after National Geographic published her image as a young refugee, her defiant, pained eyes staring out from an unsmiling face, framed by a shawl over her head.

Her legal case comes amid Pakistani pressure to send home 2.5 million Afghan refugees, even though Afghanistan faces a bloody Taleban insurgency and would struggle to look after them.

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