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Photographer vows to help green-eyed ’Afghan Girl’ arrested in Pakistan

The photographer who took the famous photo of an Afghan woman with piercing green eyes has vowed to help her after she was arrested in Pakistan.

An Afghan woman immortalised on a celebrated National Geographic magazine cover as a green-eyed 12-year-old girl was arrested Wednesday for living in Pakistan on fraudulent identity papers.

The haunting image of Sharbat Gula, taken in a Pakistan refugee camp by photographer Steve McCurry in the 1980s, became the most famous cover image in the magazine’s history.

On Instagram, McCurry said he was doing everything he could to help her.

"I object to this action by the authorities in the strongest possible terms," he said.

"She has suffered throughout her entire life, and her arrest is an egregious violation of her human rights.

"I am committed to doing anything and everything possible to provide legal and financial support for her and her family."

Her arrest highlights the desperate measures many Afghans are willing to take to avoid returning to their war-torn homeland as Pakistan cracks down on undocumented foreigners.

Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Gula for fraud following a two-year investigation on her and her husband, who has absconded.

Investigators, who have uncovered thousands of fraud cases over the last decade, launched a probe into her application shortly after she procured the card.

"FIA arrested Sharbat Gula, an Afghan woman, for obtaining a fake ID card," Shahid Ilyas, an FIA official, told AFP.

Ilyas said the authorities were also seeking three National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) officials found responsible for issuing Pakistan’s national identity card to Gula, who have been at large since the fraud was uncovered.

He said that Gula faces seven to 14 years in prison and a fine of $3000-$5000 if convicted.

In reality she is unlikely to serve such a harsh sentence - many Afghans who have been convicted in similar cases have been deported before they could be sent to prison.


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