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Pakistan Court Denies Bail To National Geographic's 'Afghan Girl'

  • RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

Sharbat Gula

Sharbat Gula

A Pakistani court has rejected the bail plea of an Afghan woman immortalized on the cover of National Geographic magazine.

Sharbat Gula, whose green eyes made her famous as a child refugee, was arrested in the northwestern city of Peshawar on October 26 for allegedly living on fraudulent identity papers.

Gula has denied the charges.

Prosecutor Mohsin Dawar said a court in Peshawar dismissed on November 2 a bail plea from Gula, citing lack of evidence to prove Pakistani citizenship.

Gula's lawyers had told the court that her four children depend on her and that she is suffering from hepatitis C.

Meanwhile, the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad, Omar Zakhirwal, called on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to intervene for Gula’s release.

Gula’s arrest has already “hurt feelings of all Afghans, and today’s ruling was a further disregard to those feelings " Zakhirwal said in a statement.

Pakistan has recently cracked down on nonregistered Afghan refugees living in the country.

The country hosts around 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, according to the United Nations.

Gula, who is now in her 40s, gained international fame in 1984 after a photograph of her taken by war photographer Steve McCurry was published on the cover of National Geographic.

With reporting by AP, Dawn, and Geo TV
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