"Afghan Girl" from 1985 National Geographic cover resurfaces in documents probe
A government official confirms she and two men fraudulently obtained identity cards
The Afghan woman, whose striking green eyes in a National Geographic cover photo made her face known around the world, is under arrest in Pakistan.
Sharbat Gula was 12 when photographer Steve McCurry captured his iconic image of her living in a refugee camp for Afghan nationals in Peshawar, Pakistan.
This week, Pakistani media revealed that a woman believed to be her and two men said to be her sons allegedly obtained national identity cards using forged documents.
An official in Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) confirmed the account to CNN, saying the woman – identified as Sharbat Bibi – claimed to have been born in Peshawar.
The official spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity.
The cards have since been canceled and four NADRA officials have been suspended in connection with the investigation, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported, citing an anonymous agency source.
Such documents are off limits for Afghan nationals living in the country, the newspaper said.
It’s unclear if Sharbat Gula remains in Peshawar or has gone elsewhere.
Some 1.5 million registered refugees from Afghanistan are living in Pakistan, according to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. More than 3.8 million have returned to Afghanistan, according to the agency.
Pressure has been mounting in Pakistan for the remaining refugees to return home, the New York Times reported this week.