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National Geographic's 'Afghan girl' to be sent back to her country: Pakistan court

National Geographic's iconic 1985 'Afghan girl' photo symbolised Afghanistan's bloody conflict in the 1980s. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan Nov 04, 2016, 04.20 AM (IST)

Sharbat Gula, the famous 'Afghan Girl' who featured on the cover of National Geographic in the 1980s, will be deported to her homeland, a Pakistani court ordered on Friday. Her children will also return with her, AFP reported.

"We... will take her to Afghanistan in an honourable way on Monday," Abdul Hameed Jalili, counselor for refugees at the Afghan consulate in Peshawar, told AFP.

The illiterate mother-of-four was arrested last week for living in the country on the basis of fake identity papers. She pleaded guilty before court today, her lawyer Mubashar Nazar told AFP. 

"She has already spent 11 days in jail," Nazar said. "We had requested the court to release her on humanitarian grounds," he added.

Pakistan's special anti-corruption and immigration court sentenced her to 15 days imprisonment and a 110,000 Pakistani rupee ($1,050) fine. 

An Afghan consulate official said that the fine imposed on Gula has already been paid and confirmed she would be released on Monday.

The court had summoned Gula today after the Federal Investigation Agency filed a charge sheet against her for possessing a bogus Pakistani identity card.

On November 2, a Pakistani court denied bail to Gula, eight days after she was arrested from her house in Nauthia, an area in northwest Pakistan.

Pakistani officials say Gula used a fake name Sharbat Bibi while applying for the identity card in Peshawar.

Pakistan's leading daily Dawn quoted an unnamed official saying that Gula had admitted her guilt during interrogation. 

Gula said she paid an agent to get the identity card, the official claimed.

Possessing a fake identity card is deemed to be a serious crime in Pakistan, with the maximum quantum of punishment being 14 years.

Dawn also reported that three officials — Palwasha Afridi, Mohsin Ehsan and Emad — have been charged for issuing fake cards to Afghan nationals, one of them being Gula.

Gula was immortalised on the National Geographic cover in 1985 and later in 2002. The haunting look on her face, reflected in her large green eyes, became the iconic photo of the Afghanistan war that was raging in the 1980s.

(WION with inputs from AFP)

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