A provincial government in Pakistan has requested federal authorities to stop the deportation of National Geographic’s famed ‘Afghan Girl.’
A Pakistani court convicted Sharbat Gula, the green-eyed girl who appeared on the cover of the magazine in 1985, of possessing forged identity papers.
Gula, now in her 40s, received a 15-day jail term, a fine of 110,000 rupees (about $1,100), and was ordered to be deported back to Afghanistan on November 7.
But authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Gula was arrested last month, have now said federal authorities should grant refugee status to Gula, saying it would improve Pakistan’s image.
Pakistan has come under severe international criticism for its treatment of Gula, with Amnesty International on November 4 calling her deportation “a grave injustice.”
In July, the government in Islamabad began a crackdown on the estimated 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the second-largest refugee population in the world.
The United Nations said more than 350,000 Afghan refugees -- documented and undocumented -- have returned to their homeland claiming to have been beaten by police, detained, and evicted from their homes in Pakistan.