Nat Geo's 'Afghan girl' will not be deported: Pakistan

Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory, PakistanUpdated: Nov 06, 2016, 10:47 AM IST

The green-eyed 'Afghan Girl' in National Geographic magazine’s iconic picture has arrived in Italy (file photo). Photograph:(AFP)

National Geographic's 'Afghan girl' will not be deported from Pakistan, a government official said.

The amnesty comes after 'Afghan girl' Sharbat Gula was ordered to leave the country by a Pakistani court on Friday (November 4). Gula was found guilty of illegally staying in the country.

Pakistani government official Shaukat Yousafzai confirmed that Gula, who is called by many as the Afghan Mona Lisa, would be allowed to stay on in the country.

The decision was taken on humanitarian grounds.

Gula shot to global fame after National Geographic put her face on its cover in 1985 to symbolise the plight of refugees and the war that was raging in Afghanistan at the time. 

Illegal resident

Gula was arrested late last month after local police found that she was residing in Pakistan on bogus documents.

She was staying in Nauthia, an area in northwest Pakistan.

Pakistani officials said Gula used a fake name Sharbat Bibi while applying for a citizenship certificate in Peshawar. They also alleged that Gula had admitted to wrongdoing during interrogation.

Gula had said she paid an agent to get the identity card, an unnamed official had told Pakistani newspaper Dawn.

Subsequently, she was produced before the court, who denied her bail.

On November 4, she was directed by the court to serve a 15-day jail sentence before she would be deported from the country.

Official pardon

The amnesty was granted by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government.

The decision was made after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan urged Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak not to deport Gula.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government then requested the federal government to nix Gula's deportation orders.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government reportedly told the federal government that Gula should be allowed to stay in Pakistan as she is a widow supporting her four children and suffering from Hepatitis C.