The green-eyed ‘Afghan girl’ who shot to global fame when a 1985 issue of National Geographic magazine published a haunting picture of her on its cover, was arrested in Peshawar on Tuesday.
Sharbat Gula, now in her 40s, was being investigated for the past few years by the Pakistani authorities who had discovered she was living in the country with fraudulent identity documents. She now faces up to 14 years in jail, a Pakistani official warned.
The haunting image of Sharbat Gula, taken in a Pakistan refugee camp by photographer Steve McCurry, became the most famous cover image in the magazine’s history.
Gula was arrested by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
“FIA arrested Sharbat Gula, an Afghan woman, today for obtaining a fake ID card,” said Shahid Ilyas, an official of the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA).
An FIA official said the officer who had issued the ID cards to Sharbat Bibi was now working as a deputy commissioner in customs and got bail-before-arrest to avoid arrest in the case.
Last year, National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) issued three CNICs to Sharbat Bibi and two men who claimed to be her sons. Issuance of CNICs were in violation to the rules and procedures of NADRA.
The official added that relatives present at the given address have refused to recognise two persons listed as her sons in the form.
An inquiry had been launched with NADRA officials under fire for issuing CNICs to foreign nationals without legitimate documentation, Dawn online noted.
Bibi remained anonymous for years after a picture of her made the cover of National Geographic. She was eventually located in 2002 by the magazine.
After her family granted her permission to meet with McCurry, who photographed her 17 years earlier, he said he knew immediately that he had found her again.